musings and mumblings 01
A lot of what I have read around THE THESIS seems to emphasize the following:
- start with a focus on something you are passionate about
- do lots of reading about and around the subject
- connecting dots – especially the dots you didn’t expect to find
When researching a paper last term I started with wanting to investigate if social media was having an impact on reading. Fueled mostly by interest in publication/magazine design and the fact that the teens I work with seem to have precious little when it comes to attention span. What I ended up discovering social media actually being credited with enhancing literacy skills (at least in post secondary school levels). What is impacting reading though — and a lot of other cognitive issues along with it — the internet. Since the internet (we can safely predict) will only continue to expand in the number of users and the functions performed, these effects can be expect to persist and grow.
If print is being surpassed by digital media, does that mean the page that I am so found of designing is on it’s way to being obsolete? Okay, web pages are still pages too, so that can be just as valid a canvas. But now I have to consider the impact on design that mobile media is having, where there isn’t one design, but a flexible format. Designers are being encouraged to let go of the idea of total control in deference to number of different ways digital media is consumed.
A couple of months ago I finally got around to seeing “Connected”, a film that explores many threads, not the least of which is the impact of technology on our lives and world. While my earlier research suggested that the effects of the internet on cognitive functions (focus in particular) were profoundly negative, this film suggested that the image-rich environments of the internet held huge positive potential. I’ll not go into too much detail on the point, because I haven’t had time to fully investigate. At least part of this point is that it is possible (Louise, don’t freak out) that reading is over-rated! There is connection (which merits further investigation) between the cognitive rewiring of our brain that reading results in, and the tendency to lose our ‘big picture’ world view and instead focus on specific problems in without consideration to the larger impacts. That goes a long way to explaining the puzzling schism between our great intellectual capacities and the horrors we continue to manifest.
So now I’ve got 3 big dots on my radar:
- magazine design
- how we read is changing
- positive appeal and impact of pictures
So now, as these different dots start connecting, my thinking is evolving (well, maybe changing is more accurate) and new considerations are starting to emerge:
- magazine design page design
- the significance of images – is that not what page and layout design does – create a cohesive image from various elements?
- What makes graphic design an important device in communication. Is it possible that those attributes might be more important now than ever because of this cognitive paradigm shift.
- What are specifics of how our reading is changing and how can graphic design respond to it.
in broad terms, skimming is replacing reading — I know the first reaction many people will have is rant about how wrong it is that this is occurring, but it won’t change the fact that it is.
- As designers our goal has always been to facilitate communication, we need to redefine how to best to continue to achieve that in light of the new realities of this digital age.
- Many aspects of page layout contrives to pull the reader into reading the story (images, captions, pull quotes, subheads) – what I suggest is the we need to invert our traditional strategies. Identify the significant content and make it obvious and immediately accessible — design for the new reading paradigm.
- Should be reading be swept aside in favor of other type of communication, existing or emerging — I’m not feeling at this moment that this is trajectory I want to pursue – but a part of my argument might be to argue for the printed word (digital or otherwise).
So that is where I am at so far. I’m cautiously optimistic about this direction, even perhaps a bit excited.
feedback etc. 01
What are specifics of how our reading is changing and how can graphic design respond to it. in broad terms, skimming is replacing reading
I see your direction with the reading and social media mix having some merit. I am not fully certain how to present the graphic design correlation unless you are referring to web media, which I think we share a certain hesitation over. Would this topic move you more into a humanities driven thesis or psychology? I am very interested in hearing more though.
When we look at the shift in Graphic Design (according to AIGA now renamed and referred to as communication design) this path could lend some interesting possibilities. Are there studies out there relating to reading and communication in regards to the new attention depleted generation of web users? Or am I completely off base?
alas, this quick thought could have been added with the “yet again missing” edit button on our posts :/
Read this article, I think it might help with some ideas on your social media/reading/graphic design topic. The concept of less design and more of the social influence and how that relates to users inputting more comments, texts, thoughts, it also touches on the DIY blogger…
This insert had me thinking loosely of your topic:
This shift in emphasis has the potential to marginalize designers. Take book covers. The rich tradition of cover design has developed because publishers have believed that a cover could help sell more books. But now more and more people are buying books based on peer reviews, user recommendations, and rankings. Word of mouth has always been a powerful marketing force, but now those mouths have access to sophisticated networks on which their words can spread faster than ever before. Covers are seen at 72dpi at best. The future of the medium depends on how it is integrated into the process of social production. The budget that once went to design fees is already being redirected to manipulating search criteria and influencing Google rankings. A good book cover can still help sell books but it is up against a lot more competition for the marketing dollar. (Siegel)
Michele Buchanan January 11, 2013 11:43 AMGood information, very.
With a focus on page design though, I hope to argue that not only is the importance of the visual arrangement of information is still (perhaps more) important, but how arrangement is handled needs to be reconsidered in light of these new paradigms.
Mariska Kalmeijer January 11, 2013 1:36 PMMichele, I believe you can go so far with this topic of certain cognitive functions changing in response to technology. I 100% agree with you, we aren’t reading deeply. When we are asked to research anything, we automatically utilize the internet. Especially being online students, everything is available for us right here. Honestly, we don’t make time for it anymore. When we are asked to read anything from a physical copy, do we read it or do we skim it? I have yet to watch the youtube video on Nicholas Carr, but I look forward to it!
Nicholas Carr is a big voice in this arena http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W86P_FX6PdII think it would be easy to argue that certain cognitive functions are changing in response to technology (not social media – the internet, or state of being connected to so many things all the time).
The result is that we are no longer reading deeply (focused, for prolonged portions of time), the tendency is now towards skimming.
Please do upload that link!
And please do check out Nick. His most provocatively title article is called “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”
In response to your question, I’m going to say… neither! Based on my reading it isn’t about the format (print or digital – and really the gap there is rapidly closing) it’s about the overall effect on cognition that doesn’t begin and end with time in front of a screen. That is chilling bit of the scenario. Wow, I could yap on a good long time about this, but it boils down to our brain and its pleasure receptors.
I’m going to check out your posting regarding your thesis ideas, maybe there is some common ground and we can share either resources or ideas.
Filed by Michele Buchanan at January 13th, 2013 under