Discussion:
InfoD-Cafe: "Open Content For All" web accessibility meeting reports
(too old to reply)
Conrad Taylor
2006-01-10 15:19:14 UTC
Permalink
"Open Content for All"
-- accessibility and compliance in e-publishing


Five of the talks given at the December 2003 meeting of
the BCS Electronic Publishing Specialist Group have been
written up, and are now available on the EPSG Web site.

"Open Content for All" was a successful and informative one-day
meeting of the Group that looked at issues of making web site
content accessible to people with disabilities, and also to
people whose primary languages use non-latin scripts, such
as Bengali, Arabic or Chinese.

These are issues that are highly relevant to the publishing
practices of government and public organisation web sites,
especially in the wake of the Disability Discrimination Act.

We're sorry it has taken two years to get these talks written
up for dissemination, but we have had to contend with shortage
of EPSG labour to deal with these, until now. But the materials
are still just as relevant today -- and where there have been
fresh developments, we have added footnotes and appendices
to the reports to keep them up to date. The Web references
have also been checked and, in many cases, updated.

So this is what's available:

Geoff Ryman, at that time working for the office of
the e-Envoy in the UK Cabinet Office, explaining
what accessibility means, what is the UK law that
mandates it, and what design management processes
to put in train so as to be able to achieve it.

Kath Noonan, a Web designer with Poptel Technology,
describing the journey she and her colleagues have
made in progressing from "eye-candy Dot Com design"
to fully accessible pages while still retaining
an interface that is attractive to all.

Caroline Lambie of Mencap, talking about the particular
challenges of making information accessible to people
with learning disabilities, and how paying attention
to their needs could bring dividends for all.

Dan McQuillan, explaining how the advice project Multikulti
has gone about publishing welfare and rights information
in a dozen languages, six of which use non-latin scripts,
in an approach based on indexable "live text" and Unicode.

Bruno Maag, a type designer, explaining just what the Unicode
encoding scheme is -- and how, in concert with TrueType and
OpenType, it is bringing multiscript web publishing closer.
Bruno also explains how fonts may be embedded in Web sites.

Each talk is available in HTML form, which I sincerely hope
is fully accessible, and also as a PDF file to download.
The starting-point is here:

http://www.epsg.org.uk/meetings/access2003/

Please do feel free to forward this message to colleagues.
We put these resources on line so that they can be shared around!
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Conrad Taylor: Information design & electronic publishing
Secretary, BCS Electronic Publishing Specialist Group (www.epsg.org.uk)
___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-15 04:05:31 UTC
Permalink
Conrad,
Post by Conrad Taylor
[...]
Bruno Maag, a type designer,
explaining just what the Unicode
encoding scheme is -- and how,
in concert with TrueType and
OpenType, it is bringing
multiscript web publishing closer.
Bruno also explains how fonts may
be embedded in Web sites.
First, I want to say that I thought the whole was very
nicely done (as usual with your projects).

I especially liked the way you integrated notes with the
text (made me wish my notes were short enough to attempt
something like this; as it is, I often find fixed-size 2nd
windows aren't large enough ;-).

Second, I'm pretty sure there's a coding error on

<http://www.epsg.org.uk/meetings/access2003/maag.html>

in the Appendix (the closing section on ligatures, which
takes on the formatting characteristics of the header).

I can't imagine you producing a run of text in bright,
bolded blue like that otherwise.

Third, a couple of typos: "hefty some in extra licensing
fees"; and "Provide that they have the license-right to do
that with the font."

... And now to the content of Bruno's talk: like you, I was
particularly interested in the passage on "How to embed
fonts in Web pages."

You mentioned that Bruno's talk is a couple of years old
now, and I'm wondering about his statement concerning
Microsoft's WEFT utility,

"The drawback? It only works in Explorer at present.
‘But how big a drawback is that? We know that 85% of
Web users use Explorer,’ said Bruno."

Do you know if this still holds?

Also, during the discussion, financial issues were raised,
with Bruno responding to Kath Noonan that

"I can’t tell you. I think at the moment the major
font foundries haven’t worked out how much they
should charge for commercial embedding. As soon as
you embed a font in a document you add value to it.
But the major foundries are just pulling figures out
of the air, to see what they can get away with.
These are unchartered waters at the moment."

I'm puzzled by the "add value to it" statement. Why should
the user have to pay for the privilege of adding value to
someone else's product?

FWIW, a while back I dipped a toe into these unchartered
waters myself (not for typeface embedding on Web pages,
which most of us would like to be able to do, I suspect, but
for *secure* typeface embedding in PDFs), and my story is
not very encouraging, especially for those of us who lack
the deep pockets of well-branded corporations.

A couple of people on this list have heard my complaints on
this matter before, but for those who have not:

I have a series of PDFs in the works (mostly on Robert
Hooke) which will make available various lectures/writings
from C17 (thankfully, no longer in copyright). The first PDF
in my Hooke series, _Time, Soul, Memory_ (originally
published here, a couple of years ago now, as some of you
will remember) has since been posted to my Web site

<http://www.she-philosopher.com/library/library_catD-F.html#dtp2003>

and uses Storm Type's "Regula" to typeset Hooke's 1682 lecture.

The problem with Regula is that while true to the typefaces
we associate with Rudolphine Prague, it is not true to the
output of the C17 English printshops.

So for the next PDF in the series (Hooke's lecture on the
portable camera obscura -- yes, that again!) I wanted to use
a "Fell" typeface digitized by the foundry, Hoefler &
Frere-Jones.

The Fell types would have been perfect for Robert Hooke, who
at one point worked closely with Moses Pitt on Pitt's
multi-volume Atlas (involving a lease of the Oxford Press
and the purchase of new founts of type). And Dr. John Fell
was part of Hooke's circle, having been a close associate of
founding Royal Society Fellows when they were still the
Invisible College at Oxford in the 1650s.

It was Fell who asked Wren to design the Sheldonian Theatre
at Oxford (intended from the outset to house the University
printer) in the early 1660s. And it was Fell, serving as
"Supervisor and Corrector of books" for the Oxford Press,
who established a type foundry for the press, along with
assisting in fitting up a paper mill at Wolvercote.

I planned to supplement my use of the Fell type in my Hooke
PDFs (there are 9 more in the works) with a Web essay on the
history of the type and its role in C17 scientific
publications, with links to the Hoefler & Frere-Jones Web
site, thus publicizing their type package and foundry to an
audience of scholars who probably wouldn't otherwise know of
its existence.

However, Hoefler & Frere-Jones' digitization of the
original Fell letterpress types sells for US$200 -- the
price of a package which includes several other typefaces I
have no use for. So back in 2004, I wrote and asked if
Hoefler & Frere-Jones would be willing to sell me the Fell
types individually.

Not only were they NOT willing to do this, but the
individual who wrote back to me politely suggested that I
read their licensing agreement, which would not allow me to
embed their fonts in any PDFs, period, without buying
additional licenses for this.

As I recall, the license mandated that the licensee pay
every time someone downloaded the PDF (whether they read it
or not), and the fees were hefty.

I still think this is a lousy business model, and one which
misses the whole point of a "knowledge economy."

And I was irritated that the foundry was not willing to work
collaboratively on the issue or come up with more
imaginative win-win solutions that might benefit all involved.

Needless to say, they're at the top of my s--- list these
days ... with DigitalRiver (Agfa Monotype's online
commercial partner?/division?) a close second.

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com
























___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Dave
2006-01-15 11:18:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
You mentioned that Bruno's talk is a couple of years old
now, and I'm wondering about his statement concerning
Microsoft's WEFT utility,
"The drawback? It only works in Explorer at present.
'But how big a drawback is that? We know that 85% of
Web users use Explorer,' said Bruno."
Do you know if this still holds?
The reality of IE's marketshare is the same, but since 2003 it went up
to something like 98% and then Mozilla (ie, Firefox) got big and its
gone back down to around 80-85%. With the resurgence of non-IE
browsers, there is currently a lot of momentum towards W3C
webstandards, accessibility, etc, so I would say this is a very bad
way to go about embedding fonts in webpages.

Fortunately, there is a Good way :-) The example page is at

http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/files/sifr/2.0/

and the homepage of 'SIFR' is at

http://www.mikeindustries.com/sifr/

Its also worth noting that the next version is in need of help, if
anyone here is inclined:

http://novemberborn.net/sifr3/look-into-the-future
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Also, during the discussion, financial issues were raised,
with Bruno responding to Kath Noonan that
"I can't tell you. I think at the moment the major
font foundries haven't worked out how much they
should charge for commercial embedding. As soon as
you embed a font in a document you add value to it.
But the major foundries are just pulling figures out
of the air, to see what they can get away with.
These are unchartered waters at the moment."
I'm puzzled by the "add value to it" statement. Why should
the user have to pay for the privilege of adding value to
someone else's product?
To me, its the same as 'embedding' - ie, using - a font in a throwaway
Word document I print once and never save. I've added value to that A4
page, but its without cost because normal font licensing allows you to
instantiate letters on pages that are printed there and then. If that
page is now only electronic, doesn't make a difference, imo, because
as the author of that document, I've paid to put those letter forms on
my documents.

Foundries get itchy fingers about electronic publishing that uses
their fonts because its possible for readers to create an unlicensed
copy of a font from the document with relative ease.

It is also possible, although a bit harder work, to extract a usable
font file out of a glossy print with a cheap photoscanner and a
(presumably also pirate) copy of
http://www.fontlab.com/Font-tools/Photofont/ though.

But, so what, you can illegally get your hands on any fonts ever made
straight from the web so easily -
http://thepiratebay.org/search.php?q=fonts - that this 'illegal
extraction' concern is absurb.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
FWIW, a while back I dipped a toe into these unchartered
waters myself (not for typeface embedding on Web pages,
which most of us would like to be able to do, I suspect, but
for *secure* typeface embedding in PDFs), and my story is
not very encouraging, especially for those of us who lack
the deep pockets of well-branded corporations.
Erik van Blokland had a workable proposal to make extracting font
files from PDFs about as hard as scanning them in, which is as secure
as life gets.

http://www.typophile.com/forums/messages/4102/Final_Form_PDF-21722.pdf

The problem is this kind of thinking leads to

"When [the font] is tampered with it dies"
- http://www.typotheque.com/site/article.php?id=63

and you get the Sony-BMG rootkit fiasco.

This is inevitabley going to get worse with the onset of Treacherous
Computing, that just began with Apple's Macbook Pro.

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/can-you-trust.html
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
I still think this is a lousy business model, and one which
misses the whole point of a "knowledge economy."
Given you wanted to pay them money, and you ended up not paying them
money, its hard to disagree :-)

--
Regards,
Dave

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-01-15 12:28:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
I'm wondering about his statement concerning
Microsoft's WEFT utility,
"The drawback? It only works in Explorer at present.
'But how big a drawback is that? We know that 85% of
Web users use Explorer,' said Bruno."
Sorry, this is a bit like saying, "The drawback of their flour? It's laced
with sugar. But so? Everybody likes sugar." Gangbang economics. Come on!
Everybody's doin' it!! I can practically guarantee there is an open-source
alternative, or will be, that is browser independent.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
"I can't tell you. I think at the moment the major
font foundries haven't worked out how much they
should charge for commercial embedding. As soon as
you embed a font in a document you add value to it.
But the major foundries are just pulling figures out
of the air, to see what they can get away with.
When you embed an idea in a document, you add value to it. And of course
the font "adds value" to the document. When you embed an idea on paper, you
add value to the paper. So we should get kickbacks from Boise Cascade. And
Nike should pay us to advertise their sweatshop shoes, and I want a nickel
everytime I wear my Jethro Tull t-shirt. And every letter set in ITC
Garamond adds value to that font, by affirming its usefulness, so Agfa
(owned by MS, if I remember correctly), owes me MILLIONS!!

The idea that a purchase should be a catheter to the customer's bank
account is one "legitimate" business borrowed from the drug trade. Which
illustrates, I think, why I used the quotation marks. This is a variant of
the RIAA's desire to make music the gift that keeps on taking, and the
numbers, Mr. Maag will discover if he smells them, were not pulled out of
"air."
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
I'm puzzled by the "add value to it" statement. Why should
the user have to pay for the privilege of adding value to
someone else's product?
A rhetorical question? American business would charge you for walking into
the store if they could get away with it. And get a tax break for the
inconvenience of having to process the transaction.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
politely suggested that I
read their licensing agreement, which would not allow me to
embed their fonts in any PDFs, period, without buying
additional licenses for this.
As I recall, the license mandated that the licensee pay
every time someone downloaded the PDF (whether they read it
or not), and the fees were hefty.
When I bought my first Adobe typeface, about 700 years ago, I was managing
a network of forty computers tied to five printers. After I read the
license, I called Adobe. It seems that I could install the font on one
printer (Ok), and then pay them a license fee for each user, whether they
used the font or not. I could not install the font on the user's desk and
then pay a license fee for each printer. If a user needed to use more than
one printer, I needed more licenses for the printer. Yes, "licenses,"
because you see, if I put the font on the printer, all forty users could
get at it, so I would need 40 licenses... even though the font was obtained
for use by three DTP operators, but not the VPFinance's gofer.

So one economical $150 typeface, needed by three people on five printers
would cost me not the ridiculous $2250 (rather than the reasonable $750),
but a laughable 40*5*150: $30,000. And a second font.... We switched to
Bitstream, and Adobe quickly revised their "business model," from insane
greed to mere avarice.

MS considered licensing their software for an 8-hour day, because it wasn't
right that two people, on two different shifts, should get to use one
license. There also was talk (two shiny suits in a Comdex elevator) about
the "injustice" that there was no way to lock the seat license to the
person in the seat. After all, what about the OTHER people who work at that
desk?? I'm confident that neither of these ideas floated up the flagpole
with a puppy on their plate not because they were contemptibly greedy, but
because of implementation problems. If only sales guys could write code....

Given Deborah's situation, I would recommend a copy of FontLab or
Fontographer and a scanner. The shape of the font is not copyrighted, just
the name, which is why we have familiar-looking typefaces called "New Times
Roman," Swiss, and Geneva -- many of them marketed by the same intellectual
prudes who wax hysterical about corporate IP (an oxymoron if I ever heard
one. Why do we accept the idea that corporations have "intellect" but not
dogs?). Unless the font foundries have figured out a way to patent the
shapes of the letters (and Conagra is working on patenting "corn" by genome
so that it will be illegal for anyone else to grow it), this route is the
simplest, rough as it is. Then you can embed your OWN font, using the
embedding methods freely available from GPL, and the American corporations
can sit in their boardrooms, happily trying to figure out how to charge you
for not buying their stuff.

M
--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.371 / Virus Database: 267.14.16/225 - Release Date: 1/9/2006


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Dave
2006-01-15 14:20:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mick McAllister
Given Deborah's situation, I would recommend a copy of FontLab or
Fontographer and a scanner. The shape of the font is not copyrighted, just
the name,
A name can be trademarked, not copyrighted.
Post by Mick McAllister
corporate IP (an oxymoron if I ever heard one
"Intellectual Property" is a nasty term because it groups three
separate parts of law - copyright, trademark, and patent law - that
are really quite different, and cause the above kind of confusion.
Post by Mick McAllister
Unless the font foundries have figured out a way to patent the
shapes of the letters
They did already - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fonts#Legal_aspects_of_typefaces
Post by Mick McAllister
Then you can embed your OWN font, using the
embedding methods freely available from GPL
Scribus now has native Mac OS X builds from http://aqua.scribus.net/ btw

--
Regards,
Dave

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-01-15 19:22:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave
Post by Mick McAllister
Unless the font foundries have figured out a way to patent the
shapes of the letters
They did already -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fonts#Legal_aspects_of_typefaces
However, the item refers ONLY to "special fonts," by which I would assume
things like the Wingbats. I still think Deborah's problem can be solved
(expensively, but not in comparison to the alternatives) with a Font
creator program that generates fonts from scanned glyphs. A lot of work,
and the worthwhile programs I know of cost $500+ (anyone know of a cheaper
alternative?), but with a special case like hers, a good solution.

M
--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.371 / Virus Database: 267.14.16/225 - Release Date: 1/9/2006


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-22 02:19:26 UTC
Permalink
Mick,
Post by Mick McAllister
So one economical $150 typeface,
needed by three people on five
printers would cost me not the
ridiculous $2250 (rather than the
reasonable $750), but a laughable
40*5*150: $30,000. And a second
font.... We switched to Bitstream,
and Adobe quickly revised their
"business model," from insane greed
to mere avarice.
Make sure you pay attention to the foundry's "Exchange and
Replacement Policy," too!

(Yet another "gotcha" hidden in the fine print.)

Just today I learned that I can't re-download ("replace") a
corrupted font I bought over the Web from Agfa|Monotype on
27 May 2001.

Apparently, you must do this within 90 days of purchase, or
the replacement font's no longer free.

If you want to download a licensed font within the period
from 91 days to two years after purchase, Agfa|Monotype will
charge you 50% of the "current price."

And to download it "two years or more after purchase," you
must pay the *full* current price of the font (probably more
than what you originally paid for it).

Since I'm well past the 2-year limit, I've been informed
that I must now buy the font again ... which I couldn't do
even if I wanted to since Adobe has dropped its MM fonts
(which is what my corrupted font is) and substituted OT
versions which do not correspond one-to-one with the MM
originals. In my case, I'd have to buy the whole family all
over again (around $300) in order to replace my 4 bad
ornament fonts.

Needless to say, that's not going to happen, and I've had to
come up with a different creative solution.

*Not* a happy customer,
Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com




___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-01-22 11:02:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
*Not* a happy customer,
The quaint notion of making the customer happy has degenerated into
geriatric greetings at Walmart. American businesses run on volume, which
they interpret to mean, "Who needs a single whiner, when there are all
these sheep lined up at the register?"

You really sound like a candidate for a font design program. I came close
to purchasing one, but decided I would not learn the manipulative skills I
needed to use it. They are pricey, around $500, but that's less than five
fonts at fonts.com.

The replacement policy is nonsense, of course. But then, so is the EULA
that says they aren't liable, even you can prove that their software blew
up your house because of something they deliberately put in it. What a
world. The cockroaches are rollin' on the floor.

M
--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 267.14.20/234 - Release Date: 1/18/2006


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-26 21:58:28 UTC
Permalink
Mick,
Post by Mick McAllister
You really sound like a candidate
for a font design program.
Perhaps in my next lifetime.

No time in this one, that's for sure. <vbg>

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com






___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Charles Foster
2006-01-24 17:01:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
(Yet another "gotcha" hidden in the fine print.)
Just today I learned that I can't re-download ("replace") a
corrupted font I bought over the Web from Agfa|Monotype on
27 May 2001.
Apparently, you must do this within 90 days of purchase, or
the replacement font's no longer free.
If you want to download a licensed font within the period
from 91 days to two years after purchase, Agfa|Monotype will
charge you 50% of the "current price."
And to download it "two years or more after purchase," you
must pay the *full* current price of the font (probably more
than what you originally paid for it).
Since I'm well past the 2-year limit, I've been informed
that I must now buy the font again ... which I couldn't do
even if I wanted to since Adobe has dropped its MM fonts
(which is what my corrupted font is) and substituted OT
versions which do not correspond one-to-one with the MM
originals. In my case, I'd have to buy the whole family all
over again (around $300) in order to replace my 4 bad
ornament fonts.
Deborah -- I noticed in an email newsletter that I got today from
Myfonts.com that they offer an unlimited replacement service? I've never
taken them up on it, but it is nice to know that it is there!

They say:
Did You Know?
The first of the year is a good time to buy new computers or upgrade current
ones. We often get questions from our customers regarding fonts they lost
when switching computers or when their systems crashed.

Did you know you can always redownload any font purchased from MyFonts?
Hope this is of interest.
Charles

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-01-25 12:31:09 UTC
Permalink
Thanks for this reminder about MyFonts.com. I got their newsletter (Fonts
of the Year!!!) today, but didn't look at the fine print. I subscribe to
their newsletter and ITC's, but don't seem to get the MyFonts one regularly
(whereas the other is reliable as clockwork).

Personally, I think of the two as the MS/Linux of typefaces, with MyFonts
more likely to promote the little guys and ITC more likely to have smooth,
polished products. But that's a perception driven by their promotional
stuff. I have a few fonts purchased from ITC, and they are unexceptionable.
Often browsed at MyFonts but never purchased. I'll give them another look.

M
--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 267.14.20/234 - Release Date: 1/18/2006


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-26 21:59:04 UTC
Permalink
Charles,
Post by Charles Foster
Deborah -- I noticed in an email
newsletter that I got today from
Myfonts.com that they offer an
unlimited replacement service?
Yes. And I buy as much as I can from MyFonts.com, partly
because their customer service is first-rate.

Unfortunately, they don't carry everything, but they are
partnering with more and more foundries all the time.

It was my impression when I first started buying fonts from
Agfa|Monotype over the Web that their new Web service was to
be even more easy and convenient than the prior procedure of
having to request and unlock codes on a fonts CD-ROM. Since
the CD-ROM technology gave you perpetual access to any fonts
you had purchased from either foundry (back then, Agfa and
Monotype were still separate entities, and I had CD-ROMs
from both), I just assumed this replacement policy would
carry over from one digital technology to the next.

Myfonts.com wasn't around then, but outfits like
PrecisionType and ImageClub (both now defunct), from which I
also purchased fonts online, all touted the on-demand, 7/24
access licensees had to fonts as one of the great benefits
of Web purchases.

It just never occurred to me that Agfa|Monotype would
deviate from this (more standard) business model.

Needless to say, I shan't be buying any more fonts from them.

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com










___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Conrad Taylor
2006-01-15 10:10:40 UTC
Permalink
Deborah,

Thanks for alerting me to the coding error on the HTML page
version of the report of Bruno Maag's talk. Turns out there
were actually three coding errors right next to each other.
Ironically these were introduced when I was "correcting" the
page a couple of days ago. Yateendra Joshi said that my
original demonstration of Devanagari conjuncts (ngakhadeva)
was not how those consonants are normally displayed when
they occur together, so I was substituting an example we
could agree on... and as I was tidying up around the edges,
I messed up the coding!
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
I especially liked the way you integrated notes with the
text (made me wish my notes were short enough to attempt
something like this...
Yes, footnotes are problematic on something so footless as a
Web page. I once made all my footnotes endnotes, with a link
to them and a link back again to the paragraph from which one
had been referred, but that seemed unsatisfactory as well.
Ironic, since the footnote is one of the earliest kinds of
ur-hyperlink!

=======
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
You mentioned that Bruno's talk is a couple of years old
now, and I'm wondering about his statement concerning
Microsoft's WEFT utility,
"The drawback? It only works in Explorer at present.
'But how big a drawback is that? We know that 85% of
Web users use Explorer,' said Bruno."
Do you know if this still holds?
I cannot give an exhaustive answer about all browsers, but I
can tell you that embedding via WEFT does not work with the
Firefox browser.


=======
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Also, during the discussion, financial issues were raised,
with Bruno responding to Kath Noonan that
"I can't tell you. I think at the moment the major
font foundries haven't worked out how much they
should charge for commercial embedding. As soon as
you embed a font in a document you add value to it.
But the major foundries are just pulling figures out
of the air, to see what they can get away with.
These are unchartered waters at the moment."
I'm puzzled by the "add value to it" statement. Why should
the user have to pay for the privilege of adding value to
someone else's product?
The way I understood Bruno's comment, he was saying that if
you yourself have a document, and you are able to embed a font
into it, you are thereby adding value to your own document (not
to a document created by someone else). For example, you may
be a company which sends out job application forms as Microsoft
Word documents to be filled out and returned by the applicant,
and it suits your corporate identity aspirations to have that
document use a particular font (say, Stone Sans). If you can
embed that font so it travels with the document, from your
sense of values, you will have "added value" to that form.

TrueType fonts include a "flag" by the setting of which a type
designer or foundry can allow a couple of levels of embedding
(just for preview and print, or additionally for editing), or
deny "embeddability" altogether. See here for the record of
a conflict that someone at Carnegie mellon University had with
Agfa Monotype's lawyers because he managed to create a program
that overwrites the embedding flag:

http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/twm/embed/dmca.html

Regarding your experience with the foundry Hoefler & Frere-Jones
and their total refusal to let you embed any of their fonts into
PDF documents: this is not the only time that I have come across
this attitude.

Some years ago I was about to conclude a deal with The Enschedé
Font Foundry (TEFF) for their extended type family "Lexikon".
Andrew Boag who is on this list will recall the occasion.
I decided not to go through with the deal on two grounds.
One was because TEFF had failed to include a large number of
crucially important glyphs, but the other was because their
font licence absolutely forbade embedding their fonts in PDFs.

They have a perfect right in law so to insist, but a proverb
comes to mind about cutting off noses to spite faces, since
they certainly didn't get my two and a half thousand pounds
as a result.

In the present day, as far as I am concerned, forbidding the user
to embed fonts in PDFs makes about as much sense as forbidding us
to print them onto paper.

Conrad
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Conrad Taylor: Information design & electronic publishing
Secretary, BCS Electronic Publishing Specialist Group (www.epsg.org.uk)
John Woram
2006-01-15 14:31:54 UTC
Permalink
Conrad Taylor wrote: "Yes, footnotes are problematic on something so
footless as a Web page."

Two solutions that have worked well for me are:
Put the footnote immediately after the paragraph in which it is cited.
Or
Make the footnote notation within the text a link which displays the
footnote if the user hovers the mouse pointer over it. This has the
advantage that a footnote doesn't interrupt text flow, unless the
reader chooses to view it.

John Woram

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Randal
2006-01-17 15:29:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Conrad Taylor
In the present day, as far as I am concerned, forbidding the user
to embed fonts in PDFs makes about as much sense as forbidding us
to print them onto paper.
Currently the "reason" for this attitude among type designers is that PDFs with embedded fonts currently allow sophisticated users to extract the point data of the fonts, which could then be theoretically used to create a copy of the font.

This seems a silly reason to me currently as the work involved is much greater than would make it worth doing, and it's not like you can't find pirated copies of Hoefler's fonts within ten minutes on Usenet or BitTorrent.

I am really shocked that the major font and browser corporations have not yet gotten together to make a real agreement for font embedding technology. It has been almost ten years since this was the "next big thing" in web technology, and it STILL doesn't work.

-- Randal
___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mark Barratt
2006-01-17 20:18:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Randal
Post by Conrad Taylor
In the present day, as far as I am concerned, forbidding the user
to embed fonts in PDFs makes about as much sense as forbidding us
to print them onto paper.
Currently the "reason" for this attitude among type designers is that PDFs with embedded fonts currently allow sophisticated users to extract the point data of the fonts, which could then be theoretically used to create a copy of the font.
Not just 'theoretically'. It's not, I'm told, hard.
Post by Randal
This seems a silly reason to me currently as the work involved is much greater than would make it worth doing, and it's not like you can't find pirated copies of Hoefler's fonts within ten minutes on Usenet or BitTorrent.
That's true, but regrettable (unless you think it's outrageous that
people should be paid for their work)
Post by Randal
I am really shocked that the major font and browser corporations have not yet gotten together to make a real agreement for font embedding technology. It has been almost ten years since this was the "next big thing" in web technology, and it STILL doesn't work.
<rant>Randal, there *are* no 'major font corporations' any more; a font
costs about one hundredth of its sticker price pre-PostScript, when font
theft involved trucks. The names you know are kept in business mostly by
custom type design for specialist devices such as phones and airport
displays etc rather than by selling fonts. As far as I can tell Adobe is
still in the business for nostalgic reasons and because they like type.
The industry is made up of many hundreds of people - mostly individuals
or 2 or 3-person businesses - who sell through low-maintenance websites.
The ones you have heard of probably make a living, but many don't. It
maybe takes a person-year to make a decently-engineered font, whether or
not it's useful/attractive, and that time is getting longer, not
shorter: a font is quite an elaborate piece of software these days.
Anyway, you probably get US$15 for every copy you sell. You can hardly
blame designers/foundries for trying to stop piracy or to get paid a bit
more for the use of their work in new situations.</rant>

Font embedding in browsers
. offers little prospect of reward for the developers (nobody would pay)
. threatens a lot of legal hassle from font designers/foundries (see
first point)
. is really not much demanded by users, who generally don't notice such
things.

There are almost zero decent open-source fonts in the world apart from
Victor Gaultney's Gentium
(http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&item_id=Gentium).

best
--
Mark Barratt
Text Matters

Information design: we help explain things using
language | design | systems | process improvement
______________________________________________________
phone +44 (0)118 986 8313 email ***@textmatters.com
web http://www.textmatters.com

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Randal
2006-01-17 21:26:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mark Barratt
Post by Randal
Currently the "reason" for this attitude among type designers is that PDFs with embedded fonts currently allow sophisticated users to extract the point data of the fonts, which could then be theoretically used to create a copy of the font.
Not just 'theoretically'. It's not, I'm told, hard.
Post by Randal
I am really shocked that the major font and browser corporations have not yet gotten together to make a real agreement for font embedding technology. It has been almost ten years since this was the "next big thing" in web technology, and it STILL doesn't work.
<rant>Randal, there *are* no 'major font corporations' any more; a font costs about one hundredth of its sticker price pre-PostScript, when font theft involved trucks. The names you know are kept in business mostly by custom type design for specialist devices such as phones and airport displays etc rather than by selling fonts. As far as I can tell Adobe is still in the business for nostalgic reasons and because they like type. The industry is made up of many hundreds of people - mostly individuals or 2 or 3-person businesses - who sell through low-maintenance websites. The ones you have heard of probably make a living, but many don't. It maybe takes a person-year to make a decently-engineered font, whether or not it's useful/attractive, and that time is getting longer, not shorter: a font is quite an elaborate piece of software these days. Anyway, you probably get US$15 for every copy
you sell. You can hardly blame designers/foundries for trying to stop piracy or to get pa!
id a bit more for the use of their work in new situations.</rant>

Adobe, I would say, is a relatively large company (as is Microsoft). While there are indeed hundreds of small type design companies, the vast majority of fonts actually used by designers come from Adobe or Microsoft. Obviously preventing piracy is a good idea, but preventing users from embedding in PDFs is a stupid way to go about it. Indeed, I would agree that not being able to embed in PDFs is a very good reason NOT to buy from small foundries.

This is a classic example of why capitalism doesn't allow the creation of standards, and stands in the way of certain important kinds of progress. It would certainly benefit web users and designers to have a simple way to embed fonts into designs, yet no corporation currently has an interest in either creating or following standards. If there was a way to make this work, it would take over the web in minutes (and create valuable new demand for font designs).

SIFR is interesting, but currently way too complex for most people, and while it apparently works for most browsers it is not really based on open standards, so is very vulnerable to changes in the future.

-- Randal



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mark Barratt
2006-01-18 00:18:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Randal
Adobe, I would say, is a relatively large company (as is Microsoft). While there are indeed hundreds of small type design companies, the vast majority of fonts actually used by designers come from Adobe or Microsoft. Obviously preventing piracy is a good idea, but preventing users from embedding in PDFs is a stupid way to go about it. Indeed, I would agree that not being able to embed in PDFs is a very good reason NOT to buy from small foundries.
Yes, but for Adobe, 'type' is one small part of 'other'. Neither 'type'
nor 'font' is mentioned in their annual report, and they don't give
figures for turnover or earnings in this area (presumably because they
are insignificant). Microsoft gives away all its type (with
restrictions): it's a cost for them, not a source of profit, except very
indirectly - they have the ambition of providing the best on-screen
reading experience of any available system, an ambition which they have
largely achieved. But they are both very small operations - you could
get the whole Adobe and Microsoft type teams into my kitchen, probably
with room remaining for either the Linotype or AgfaMonotype crew.

I actually agree about embedding rights. Both Adobe and Microsoft, along
with the large majority of vendors, do allow embedding. Enschede and a
few others don't allow it at all. Others have in-between policies. The
licensing situation for fonts is complex: curiously, the designers and
foundries are scared of getting together to rationalise it because of
anti-trust legislation.
Post by Randal
This is a classic example of why capitalism doesn't allow the creation of standards, and stands in the way of certain important kinds of progress. It would certainly benefit web users and designers to have a simple way to embed fonts into designs, yet no corporation currently has an interest in either creating or following standards. If there was a way to make this work, it would take over the web in minutes (and create valuable new demand for font designs).
You can always do it in Flash (I'm not sure, as I don't really do Flash,
but I assume it respects embedding permissions). As for open standards,
in this area they are only useful if there is open-source intellectual
property (fonts) for them to use. And there isn't.
Post by Randal
SIFR is interesting, but currently way too complex for most people, and while it apparently works for most browsers it is not really based on open standards, so is very vulnerable to changes in the future.
Thanks for the SIFR tip - I hadn't seen it.
--
Mark Barratt
Text Matters

Information design: we help explain things using
language | design | systems | process improvement
______________________________________________________
phone +44 (0)118 986 8313 email ***@textmatters.com
skype mark_barratt web http://www.textmatters.com

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-18 20:11:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mark Barratt
At 10:10 AM +0000 1/15/06, Conrad
Post by Conrad Taylor
In the present day, as far as I
am concerned, forbidding the user
to embed fonts in PDFs makes about
as much sense as forbidding us
to print them onto paper.
Currently the "reason" for this
attitude among type designers is
that PDFs with embedded fonts
currently allow sophisticated users
to extract the point data of the
fonts, which could then be
theoretically used to create a copy
of the font.
Not just 'theoretically'. It's not,
I'm told, hard.
I sincerely doubt that my audience is going to be extracting
the point data of the fonts from my secured PDFs, and using
this to create pirated copies of the font!

I do use Acrobat's password security feature (I take it this
doesn't really work as advertised?), to prevent users from
extracting the font or changing text and images.

But I've always assumed that it you had the really expensive
Acrobat package (like some institutions invest in) you could
probably figure out a way to override a PDF's security
settings. But why bother?

Most users who want to extract text and/or graphics can just
print out a page and scan it....

And if you're going to go to all the trouble of basically
building a font from scratch, why not get really
entrepreneurial and make your own typeface -- say, "Mad
Madge" -- based on the printed texts of Margaret Cavendish
and her female printer, Anne Maxwell? or the Royal Society
printer, John Martyn?

I would think a "Mad Madge" typeface would sell like
hotcakes compared to "Fell" (especially if you put together
a package which included a script face based on her own
handwriting).


As for my particular problem, I have come up with a
solution of sorts.

I dropped the idea of using Fell, and invested instead in
ITC's Founders Caslon, which I shall use in future PDFs (for
C17 text) along with Frantisek Storm's Regent or Andulka
(for my C21 commentary). I still believe in paying for fonts
and supporting type designers whenever I can. Not only has
Frantisek supported me in the past, but he continues to
design type that I really enjoy working with (and reading,
especially onscreen).

Admittedly, Founders Caslon is not quite right for Hooke and
other Restoration-era scientists, but it's close enough that
few of us will know the difference. Plus, it's quite
beautiful in its own right (a consideration, since Gunnar
has told me at least once that some of the most popular
mid-century C17 English type was "butt ugly" ;-).

I see no reason to sacrifice aesthetics at the alter of
authenticity (which we pomo sorts don't really believe in
anyway ;-), so from now on, it will be Founders Caslon
that I use.

Plus, since a Caslon specimen sheet was printed in Chambers'
Cyclopaedia of 1728 to illustrate the articles on
"character" and typesetting, I have planned a new Web essay
that links Caslon to Chambers' influential dictionary of the
arts & sciences, along with Wilkins' earlier universal
language project, and Moxon's 1676 _Regulæ trium ordinum
literarum typographicarum_.

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com












___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Charles Foster
2006-01-18 21:13:30 UTC
Permalink
[Founders Caslon is]...
quite beautiful in its own right (a consideration, since Gunnar
has told me at least once that some of the most popular
mid-century C17 English type was "butt ugly" ;-).
I see no reason to sacrifice aesthetics at the alter of
authenticity (which we pomo sorts don't really believe in
anyway ;-), so from now on, it will be Founders Caslon
that I use.
Plus, since a Caslon specimen sheet was printed in Chambers'
Cyclopaedia of 1728 to illustrate the articles on
"character" and typesetting, I have planned a new Web essay
that links Caslon to Chambers' influential dictionary of the
arts & sciences, along with Wilkins' earlier universal
language project, and Moxon's 1676 _Regulæ trium ordinum
literarum typographicarum_.
And Founder's Caslon was designed by a lovely man, the late Justin Howes,
whom I met once at the Type Museum in London. He was very helpful, including
driving me to Lambeth library to do some photocopying (as for some reason
the Museum didn't have a copier!) Sadly, he died last year, which was a
great loss to those of us who love the history of type.

It seems that Caslon is a typeface you either love or loathe. George Bernard
Shaw, for instance, used to insist that his books were set in it. But there
are many other people who wouldn't give it houseroom.



Charles Foster

********************





___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-20 01:13:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Charles Foster
And Founder's Caslon was designed
by a lovely man, the late Justin
Howes, whom I met once at the Type
Museum in London. He was very
helpful, including driving me to
Lambeth library to do some
photocopying (as for some reason
the Museum didn't have a copier!)
Sadly, he died last year, which
was a great loss to those of us
who love the history of type.
Thank you for this, Charles. <bg>

It puts a personality to the design that I'm sure to
remember each time I work with it.

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com





___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-01-18 01:48:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mark Barratt
Post by Randal
Post by Conrad Taylor
In the present day, as far as I am concerned, forbidding the user
to embed fonts in PDFs makes about as much sense as forbidding us
to print them onto paper.
Currently the "reason" for this attitude among type designers is that
PDFs with embedded fonts currently allow sophisticated users to extract
the point data of the fonts, which could then be theoretically used to
create a copy of the font.
Not just 'theoretically'. It's not, I'm told, hard.
No doubt it would be "not hard" for someone with a $500 font design program
and the skill set to go with it (the skills are not in the package). I
agree with Randall, that the danger of "stealing" fonts is pretty marginal,
unless what you can extract is a fully formed Truetype font needing no
manipulation. And that, it appears, is not the case. It strikes me as a bit
like worrying that someone is going to "steal" the Mona Lisa from a 50%
compressed, 300 DPI Jpg.

M
--
Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.371 / Virus Database: 267.14.16/225 - Release Date: 1/9/2006


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-18 20:11:16 UTC
Permalink
Conrad,
Post by Conrad Taylor
Yes, footnotes are problematic on
something so footless as a Web
page. I once made all my footnotes
endnotes, with a link to them and
a link back again to the paragraph
from which one had been referred,
but that seemed unsatisfactory as
well. Ironic, since the footnote
is one of the earliest kinds of
ur-hyperlink!
Yes. Unfortunately, I have way too many, lengthy footnotes
to place them at the end of paragraphs (in some cases, my
content notes are a lot longer than the text paragraphs to
which they are attached).

So I have experimented with the C17 use of "marginalia." I
run notes (set in a color and type which differentiates them
from text) in a column down the righthand side of the screen
with text anchors for easy back-and-forth. It's not ideal,
but it was the best tradeoff I could come up with, given
what I had to work with (and the need to have note content
searchable).

And this approach does take advantage of the 4:3 (already
moving to 16:9, I'm told) aspect ratio of computer screens.

Still, when I see the neater solutions others have come up
with, I wish I could get away with fewer notes and more
elegantly-designed html pages.

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com









___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-18 23:21:05 UTC
Permalink
Conrad,
If you can embed that font so it
travels with the document, from
your sense of values, you will
have "added value" to that form.
The more I think about this, the more convinced I become
that this "added value" business cuts both ways.

Yes, I add value to my Hooke document by embedding the right
fonts in it so that I can maintain a particular designed-for
or branded look.

But by so doing, I also "add value" to the font, as well.
After all, how much is a font worth that nobody uses?

Which brings me to another point: the Marxist distinction
between use-value and exchange-value.

It seems to me that the kind of "added value" we're talking
about in both cases is use-value, whereas the foundries are
treating it as though it were quantifiable exchange-value
... which is why they're having difficulty coming up with
workable numbers.

Because of its association with the natural and subjective
qualities of objects (including socially-constructed or
imagined desires and wants), use-value has received short
shrift from orthodox Marxism and capitalism, both of which
equate real value with exchange-value. A. Leontiev's
explanation in his popular Marxist primer, _Political
Economy_, is typical:

"Use-values of commodities differ so widely that
they cannot be compared quantitatively. For example,
what is there in common in the use-value of pig iron
and roast beef? Consequently, we must look for the
secret value, not in use-value, but in something
else. Marx says: 'If then we leave out of
consideration the use-value of commodities, they
have only one common property left, that of being
products of labor.'"

But the classical labor theory of value doesn't apply to the
products of a knowledge economy in the same way it does to
the products of an industrial economy.

How can a type foundry predict the use-value of a given font
in any given situation?

It could just as easily turn out that I alienate more
readers than I attract by embedding the Fell font in a pdf.
In fact, the embedded font could have a negative use-value
for certain audiences.

It seems to me that digital communication is one of those
situations that requires whole new ways of thinking about
"value."

Personally, I believe it's time that we turn our attention
to use-value, which seems to me a more appropriate measure
of fonts and documents and Web sites than is exchange-value.

Production costs just aren't the great equalizer they used
to be.

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com















___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Dave
2006-01-19 00:33:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Which brings me to another point: the Marxist distinction
between use-value and exchange-value.
"Use-values of commodities differ so widely that
they cannot be compared quantitatively.
lol, the past's obsession with quantifiable verification (eg, in this
quote) seems very odd to me. Then again, earlier this week I met an
ex-NHS psychologist who provided a very astute rant on the current
pressure to measure what he did quantifiably that got so much he quit
to set up his own private practice - so maybe its not so far in the
past as I'd assume... :-)
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Personally, I believe it's time that we turn our attention
to use-value, which seems to me a more appropriate measure
of fonts and documents and Web sites than is exchange-value.
Production costs just aren't the great equalizer they used
to be.
It seems impossible to me to be able to measure the effect that any
kind of design has. Any evidence to the contrary?


I'm reminded of a Paul Graham essay that mentions measuring value, at
http://www.paulgraham.com/wealth.html

--
Regards,
Dave

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
David Sless
2006-01-19 00:46:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave
It seems impossible to me to be able to measure the effect that any
kind of design has. Any evidence to the contrary?
Dave, this is an old chestnut. Many of us have been measuring the
effects of design for years--indeed in many instances required to do
so. Lots of evidence published. See our case histories on our web site.

David
--
Professor David Sless BA MSc FRSA
Director • Communication Research Institute of Australia
• helping people communicate with people •

60 Park Street • Fitzroy North • Melbourne • Australia • 3068

Mobile: +61 (0)412 356 795
Phone: +61 (0)3 9489 8640
web: http://www.communication.org.au



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-20 01:13:13 UTC
Permalink
David,
Post by David Sless
Dave, this is an old chestnut.
Perhaps.

But if so, that's because the subject of "value-added"
product has yet to be satisfactorily dealt with by
designers, notwithstanding all the numbers people throw
about in hopes of proving otherwise.

Personally, I thought Dave's recommended Paul Graham essay

<http://www.paulgraham.com/wealth.html>

was one of the most interesting pieces on the subject I've
read in a long time, even though I disagreed with its
overall libertarian bent.

Paul Graham raised a lot of the uncomfortable questions that
less-experienced theorists, coming at matters of valuation
from the outside (or relying on established precedent),
simply gloss over.

As Marx knew well, use-value is a very difficult concept to
grasp, let alone run a business by.

If some designers already know all the answers, they've
certainly kept it a well-hidden secret from the rest of us.

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com










___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
David Sless
2006-01-21 01:37:28 UTC
Permalink
Deborah,

I think we probably agree on this. I think Paul Graham's essay is a
neat articulation of some fairly basic economic propositions about
wealth creation and the 'free' market. Like you, I don't share his
politics. Indeed, I think there is a lot to be said for notions of
social capital and wealth creation.

But that aside, I suggested that the issue was a 'an old chestnut'
because I've been researching and writing about this issue for some
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
some designers already know all the answers
But we do know something about how to articulate, measure, and
quantify the 'use value' of our work. I realise that many designers
do not do this, skate around it, or deliberately avoid it. In our
case, though, it's a central part of what we do. I strongly believe
that if we are not adding value--however that is described and
quantified--we are not doing our job.

David

Professor David Sless BA MSc FRSA
Director • Communication Research Institute of Australia
• helping people communicate with people •

60 Park Street • Fitzroy North • Melbourne • Australia • 3068

Mobile: +61 (0)412 356 795
Phone: +61 (0)3 9489 8640
web: http://www.communication.org.au



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-01-22 19:02:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Sless
But we do know something about how to articulate, measure, and
quantify the 'use value' of our work.
Of course there are ways to quantify the value of intangibles, but they
tend to grossly oversimplify valuation and they lead inevitably to
exploitation. For example, a favorite "old chestnut" of mine was IBM's
alleged quantification of programmer output. I say "alleged" because all I
know about it firsthand is that the bean counters at my tiny software
company tried to copy it. The idea was that a "good" programmer (by which I
cynically assumed was meant, one who was behaving properly, like the "good
sheep" who walks up the ramp without getting all stressed)
could/would/should (the words are interchangeable in this value system)
write 80,000 lines of code a month, and since a machine can count "lines,"
we don't need pesky humans to manage their output.

It didn't take Zeno to come up with the problems. What is a "line"? What if
you delete 70,000 of them at the beginning of the next month? What if they
don't work, because of someone else's code? Do blank lines count? Do lines
with just a close bracket, crucial as they are to the code? Am I working
"less" if I close a great-grandchild process with a series of four brackets
on the same line; or more if I put each one on a line by itself? Etc. And
of course, as the answers attempted to nail the jelly to the tree,
ingenious programmers (after all, that IS why you hired them) found ways to
exploit the answers for labor's ends, just as the bean counters were
attempting to codify (so much nicer a word than "exploit") them for
management's.

Valuation is not a simple binary concept. I worked at a company which
demanded that our divisions be "profitable on a monthly basis." At one
point, some management genius decided that the research team needed to be a
profit center. He was subdued. But not the successor who decided we should
be profitable on a weekly basis. My division worked on projects that took
up to three years to complete. I suggested that we demand profit on an
hourly basis....

The problem is no different than any kind of grading, and every honest
grade includes the unspoken weasel, "in MY opinion." A room full of dolts
may not recognize an 'A' paper, pace T Jefferson, as I demonstrated once by
handing some colleagues in a grading workshop an essay by MacArthur-winning
prosodist Leslie Silko. Told it was written by a student as a
less-prestigious college where I moonlighted, they promptly parsed it into
a B- effort. Since Silko is an American Indian and woman, learning what
they had done was a cause of some ill will. "What I had done to them," as a
few put it.

If you ask me whether one child is taller than another, I can determine an
answer we both agree on. If you tell me one font is better than another,
the chances are pretty high that only one of us will agree, even after
hours of explanation. Ask me what I think of Ernest Hemingway.... Better
than Harry Crewes? You bet. Than Patricia Cornwell? Sure. Than any writer I
like? Not a chance.

M
--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 267.14.20/234 - Release Date: 1/18/2006


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
David Sless
2006-01-22 23:29:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mick McAllister
Of course there are ways to quantify the value of intangibles, but
they tend to grossly oversimplify valuation and they lead
inevitably to exploitation.
Interesting view. I'm not sure that it fits the kind of work we do. I
don't think we measure intangibles or oversimplify, but I leave the
judgement of that to others. I don't doubt that some of our work has
the potential to lead to exploitation--our research that led to the
Tax Pack in Australia comes to mind as an example--but is
exploitation inevitable? I hope not. Indeed, I see some evidence to
the contrary, particularly in our recent work on medicines information.
Post by Mick McAllister
Valuation is not a simple binary concept
Yes, we agree on that.
Post by Mick McAllister
The problem is no different than any kind of grading, and every
honest grade includes the unspoken weasel, "in MY opinion."
Yes, but the point of articulating what one does is to make the
'unspoken' into something 'spoken' so that it can be discussed.

David
--
Professor David Sless BA MSc FRSA
Director • Communication Research Institute of Australia
• helping people communicate with people •

60 Park Street • Fitzroy North • Melbourne • Australia • 3068

Mobile: +61 (0)412 356 795
Phone: +61 (0)3 9489 8640
web: http://www.communication.org.au



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-01-23 00:29:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Sless
Yes, but the point of articulating what one does is to make the
'unspoken' into something 'spoken' so that it can be discussed.
That, with the caveat I've offered, I agree with. I'm not opposed to
grading, just to turning that (as the federal government has) into some
sort of final solution. I don't object to quantifying, as long as we don't
let the bean counters transform creative work into a commodity.

M
--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 267.14.20/234 - Release Date: 1/18/2006


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
David Sless
2006-01-23 01:26:10 UTC
Permalink
I'm not opposed to grading, just to turning that (as the federal
government has) into some sort of final solution.
which federal government? can you point me to their 'final solution'?

David
--
Professor David Sless BA MSc FRSA
Director • Communication Research Institute of Australia
• helping people communicate with people •

60 Park Street • Fitzroy North • Melbourne • Australia • 3068

Mobile: +61 (0)412 356 795
Phone: +61 (0)3 9489 8640
web: http://www.communication.org.au



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-01-23 12:57:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Sless
I'm not opposed to grading, just to turning that (as the federal
government has) into some sort of final solution.
which federal government? can you point me to their 'final solution'?
The US. Google "No Child Left Behind."

M
--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 267.14.20/234 - Release Date: 1/18/2006


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Karel van der Waarde
2006-01-23 05:34:54 UTC
Permalink
Dear all,

[Sorry to interrupt other interesting threads. The Washington Post
published an interesting article on information design.]
My Designer Prescription for Medicare's Ills

By Leslie Smolan

Sunday, January 22, 2006; Page B02

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/21/AR2006012100091.html

It starts: 'When I read the headlines last week about seniors lost in
the maze of the new Medicare prescription drug plan, I didn't just
see them as further evidence that the confusion-ridden, fraud-laden,
money-squandering Medicare system is headed for disaster. The news
also bolstered my conviction that most of Medicare's failings can be
tied to a single "disease": disastrously poor information design.'
Kind regards,
Karel.
***@glo.be
___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-01-23 13:08:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Karel van der Waarde
My Designer Prescription for Medicare's Ills
By Leslie Smolan
Sunday, January 22, 2006; Page B02
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/21/AR2006012100091.html
It starts: 'When I read the headlines last week about seniors lost in the
maze of the new Medicare prescription drug plan, I didn't just see them as
further evidence that the confusion-ridden, fraud-laden, money-squandering
Medicare system is headed for disaster. The news also bolstered my
conviction that most of Medicare's failings can be tied to a single
"disease": disastrously poor information design.'
"Disastrously poor" assumes that "information design" is a field with moral
content. Like guns, it works for criminals too. The system is intended to
be as impossible to use as it is. The current US government is operating
with a brilliant (if occasionally overreaching) mastery of Orwellian
principles of "information design." The Medicare system (which is fairly
likely to kill my elderly sister this year) has been designed to not work.
There is nothing "poor" about it, except the poverty of humane values shown
by the wealthy criminals behind it.

A novelist I admire once wrote of the Mafia, "If three of them were chasing
a guy with a million dollars, and a kid dropped a dime on the sidewalk,
they'd stop to steal the dime, and then fight over who gets it." It aptly
describes our government; and the last will, I think, be their undoing, not
because the citizens will revolt in disgust (and miss the Super Bowl? Get
real), but because they will destroy each other faster than they can reproduce.

M
--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 267.14.20/234 - Release Date: 1/18/2006


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-25 05:52:13 UTC
Permalink
Karel,
Post by Karel van der Waarde
[Sorry to interrupt other
interesting threads. The
Washington Post published an
interesting article on information
design.]
My Designer Prescription for
Medicare's Ills
By Leslie Smolan
Sunday, January 22, 2006; Page B02
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/21/AR2006012100091.html

No interruption in threads as far as I'm concerned. <vbg>

Smolan's _Washington Post_ piece is a good example of what
I've been arguing about with David. (E.g., I don't believe
that "your year-end American Express statement" is analogous
to medical insurance billing. ;-)

I agree with Mick that there's more going on with Medicare
than what Smolan interprets as

"a single 'disease': disastrously poor information
design."

E.g., "information discontinuity" runs throughout the U.S.
healthcare system, and has multiple causes, not the least of
which has to do with the fact that communication across
specialties (medical as well as technical and
administrative) is *difficult*. Each little unit has its own
way of doing things -- which usually works fairly well for
it -- so the problem comes mostly when the different units
have to interface with one another.

If I had to select a primary cause (and I really don't like
doing this, because bureaucratic failings are seldom
monocausal) it wouldn't be disastrous information design,
but the breakdown of organizational interfaces. Too often,
you're dealing with incompatible cultures that don't mesh,
and don't even know they don't mesh ... and in some cases,
really don't care.

This means that coming up with a universal data bank, as
Smolan suggests, is NOT a simple matter. There are
reasons why "Medicare, the insurance companies and the
doctors all have different computer programs." Even within
the same hospital, different departments will sometimes
choose different computer billing systems because of costs
(not all departments have similar levels of funding for
extras like IT, and many have hard choices to make about how
to wisely spend what little they do have). The sort of
one-size-fits-all databank Smolan suggests would require
real trade-offs that I suspect doctors and labs and clinics
and specific departments throughout the U.S. healthcare
system -- not to mention patients -- may not in fact want to
make.

To the extent that information design can ease the burden of
translating across specialties, I do think it has an
important (but limited) role to play.

It's just one factor among many that must be addressed
simultaneously. (In other words, we need to take a more
wholistic approach to the problem.)

Regarding Smolen's reference to the Dept. of Veteran Affairs
(a key player in the Medicare maze, and elsewhere in the
U.S. healthcare system, since it oversees the medical care
of military personnel and their dependents), yes, they have
implemented some important reforms, but I'm not sure how
much of the "50 percent reduction in costs per patient" can
be attributed to improved ID, especially if we define
this in Smolan's fairly narrow terms of "clear thinking made
visible."

Almost a year ago, there was a news story on our Public
Broadcasting Service about the VA's innovative medical
program, which as I understood it, was geared at improving
mortality rates rather than managing "information overdose."

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
February 7, 2005

"Medical Errors" segment
Studies show thousands of Americans are killed or
injured each year due to avoidable mistakes. Susan
Dentzer looks at how one health care system is
trying to stop medical errors before they happen.

A full text transcript used to be available (not sure if
it's still here or not) at

<http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/jan-june05/errors_2-7.html>

with links for streaming video and RealAudio versions at the
top of the page.

According to this report, it was a VA nurse who came up with
the brilliant idea of introducing simple barcode technology
into the hospital setting.

So, do we classify this as ID?

I suppose we could, but do we really gain anything from
doing so?

Smolan frames her piece around

"the headlines last week about seniors lost in the
maze of the new Medicare prescription drug plan."

But is better information design -- a single solution for a
"single 'disease'" -- really going to provide the sort of
quick fix that Smolan wants (i.e., make the whole system
simple, easy, and reliable)?

And do we perhaps do a disservice to seniors when we imply
that it will?

And what about when we can't deliver on that promise (and I
personally don't believe we can)?

See, for instance, the analysis of the (quite complex)
situation behind the headlines, as given in Sunday's _LA Times_:

"Pitfalls No Surprise in Drug Benefit Launch"

from "The Nation" section of the _Los Angeles Times_
for Sunday, 22 Jan. 2006

ASCII text file at:
<http://www.she-philosopher.com/home/temp/medicare.txt>.

(And David Sless: Negrete's pointed statement therein
concerning the need for usability testing -- "All this
information should have been tested for a month before we
went live" -- should warm the cockles of your heart! ;-)

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com


































___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
David Sless
2006-01-25 23:04:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Smolan's _Washington Post_ piece is a good example of what
I've been arguing about with David. (E.g., I don't believe
that "your year-end American Express statement" is analogous
to medical insurance billing. ;-)
I wasn't aware we were arguing about this!

As to the Smolan's piece its mainly a good example of self promotion.
But it does add to a more general growing awareness of information
design in a wider community, and that is no bad thing. I agree,
though, that it is naive. The complex of political factors (i mean
politics with a small p), technical complexities, andbureaucratic
accretion and sedimentation that control such documents means that
anyone interested in 'solving' the 'problem' or even ameliorating it
for the public good, must take on a much broader range of activities
and use a wider range of skills than is typically deployed in
information design projects.

This brings me back to some interesting questions about the
'boundaries' of information design problem solving…

David
--
Professor David Sless BA MSc FRSA
Director • Communication Research Institute of Australia
• helping people communicate with people •

60 Park Street • Fitzroy North • Melbourne • Australia • 3068

Mobile: +61 (0)412 356 795
Phone: +61 (0)3 9489 8640
web: http://www.communication.org.au



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-23 23:35:53 UTC
Permalink
David,
Post by David Sless
Indeed, I think there is a lot to
be said for notions of social
capital and wealth creation.
Yes. And my impression was that Graham recognizes this, too,
but like all libertarians, is less interested in the social
than the individual. (Plus, as I understood it, his essay
was written in dialogue with those asking him about how to
build personal wealth, so the essay intentionally had little
to do with the difficult issue of social capital formation.)

While I did not understand Graham to belong to that school
of libertarians who fixate on rights without obligations, I
did see him as advancing a notion of the self (and/or small
group) that feminists have called "autonomous individualism"
(aka "the fiction of male autonomy," the "sovereign self,"
the "bourgeois self").

As Mick has pointed out, not just feminists, but others as
well have argued on behalf of a new ethic of human
interdependence and connectedness -- "social individuality"
(aka the "self-in-relation," the "social self").

This new thinking about the vexed relationship between
personal and social is among the most promising work being
done in the humanities, I believe.

Among other things, some have argued that the social self
is more consistent than the sovereign self with "the
evolutionary theory of reciprocal altruism":

"Where individuals interact repeatedly, cooperation
becomes the best strategy and democracy a necessity
-- both politically *and* economically."

One would think that the new challenges of social
individuality (especially as modeled by the open source
community) would interest techno-libertarians as well as
more traditional socialists and communitarians.

And my impression is that Paul Graham has thought about
these issues at length, even if he didn't choose to write
about them in this particular essay.
Post by David Sless
I suggested that the issue was a
'an old chestnut' because I've
been researching and writing about
this issue for some time, and so
have others. I would not suggest
some designers already know all
the answers
But we do know something about how
to articulate, measure, and quantify
the 'use value' of our work.
And I jumped on you for the "an old chestnut" phrase because
it sounded (to me) patronizing, as well as a conversation
stopper ... "been there, done that," as if there's
nothing new to say about such a familiar subject.

I am aware that there is a growing body of literature out
there which attempts to "quantify the 'use value' of our
work." But nothing that I have read (starting with the
assertions in the Institute of Scientific and Technical
Communicators' 1985 _ISTC Handbook of Technical Writing and
Publication Techniques_) has been persuasive.

I'm all for "articulating" use-value, and I even believe
that it's possible to (loosely) quantify use-value in very
specific situations (e.g., a direct marketing campaign that
demonstrably increases the response rate by such-and-such a
percent).

But I've yet to encounter the sort of nuanced casuist
arguments needed to establish a well-understood relationship
between analogous cases. Yet this is, I believe, the whole
point of this literature (i.e., persuading those who don't
want to pay for it -- or invest in it -- of the "added
value" of good design). And one way to do this is to claim
transferrability from one case to another, where in fact,
this may not apply due to different situational constraints.

My other complaint is that too many of the writeups I've
read make exaggerated claims about value which ignore the
situation-specific, interdependent role of design in a given
project. As Graham explains, it is next to impossible to
isolate the value added by design vs. writing vs. software
engineering vs. hardware engineering vs. marketing etc. in
the development of a given product.

Contributions made by designers are not like bricks in a
wall, each of which maintains its identity when separated
from the whole. I prefer to think of designs as relational
configurations that are best understood as part of a
"relational matrix."

And yet this requires what the feminists call "acentric"
discourse ... which is basically at odds with reports
emphasizing the value of only one part of the whole.

Of course, it is not fair that I lump your research and
writing about this issue in with all the rest when I have
not, in fact, read any of it.

But here, too, use-value vs. exchange-value is at play.

I can't possibly read everything that everyone recommends
these days, and am growing increasingly picky about what I
do read. Unlike many on this list, I'm not especially
interested in this kind of literature, and so I have to have
a really good reason to spend time on it rather than
something else.

And you did not give me that reason.

First, you directed us to your Web site, but gave no
specific URLs ... and right there, you lost me, since I
don't have time to browse through Web sites any more. In
this, I suspect I'm no different than most of the visitors
to my own Web site, who come for specific material. That
doesn't preclude them from subsequent browsing, but I
think most of us want a targeted entry point.

Second, I followed up on one of your URLs some time ago, and
was disappointed to discover that you charge for many of the
materials on your site.

This was, for me, a complete turn-off.

I understand why you would do this, and there are many valid
arguments for structuring Web publishing this way. But it
assumes that my need to read your research outweighs the
benefits of what Conrad first called "open content for all"
(the subject line for this thread).

Increasingly, I think, that's a dangerous assumption to
make. It works in the academic world because the peer review
system requires that everyone read a certain canon of texts
in order to be admitted to (and maintain a position in) the
group.

But it does not work so well in the diverse communities of
practice (like the Café) springing up all over the Web.

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com


































___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
David Sless
2006-01-24 03:35:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
First, you directed us to your Web site, but gave no
specific URLs ... and right there, you lost me, since I
don't have time to browse through Web sites any more. In
this, I suspect I'm no different than most of the visitors
to my own Web site, who come for specific material. That
doesn't preclude them from subsequent browsing, but I
think most of us want a targeted entry point.
Here are a couple of specific case histories
http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/
publication_id_89_1290110197.html
http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/
publication_id_85_149746393.html
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Second, I followed up on one of your URLs some time ago, and
was disappointed to discover that you charge for many of the
materials on your site.
Not so any more. Only our guidelines for members are charged for and
that is as part of their membership.

David
--
Professor David Sless BA MSc FRSA
Director • Communication Research Institute of Australia
• helping people communicate with people •

60 Park Street • Fitzroy North • Melbourne • Australia • 3068

Mobile: +61 (0)412 356 795
Phone: +61 (0)3 9489 8640
web: http://www.communication.org.au



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Conrad Taylor
2006-01-15 15:29:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by John Woram
Put the footnote immediately after the paragraph
in which it is cited.
Which is what I did.
Post by John Woram
Or
Make the footnote notation within the text a link
which displays the footnote if the user hovers the
mouse pointer over it. This has the advantage that
a footnote doesn't interrupt text flow, unless the
reader chooses to view it.
That is nice for the sighted viewer with good hand-eye
co-ordination, who somehow understands that this is the
method used for footnote display, but I hope you can
understand why I would be reluctant to use this method on
web pages reporting from a conference about how to make
Web information accessible for people with disabilities.

To tell the truth, I don't know how such embedded notes
would be experienced by, for example, users of the JAWS
screen-reader. I reckoned conservatively it would be
best to place to note below the paragraph, and precede
each one with the word "Note".

Conrad
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Conrad Taylor: Information design & electronic publishing
Secretary, BCS Electronic Publishing Specialist Group (www.epsg.org.uk)
___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
John Woram
2006-01-15 17:18:28 UTC
Permalink
Conrad Taylor wrote: "I don't know how such embedded notes would be
experienced by, for example, users of the JAWS screen-reader."

Nor do I, but I suppose almost any treatment of footnotes would need
careful consideration if the page is to be optimized for screen
readers. In that case, what happens if a lengthy paragraph has
several footnotes? Should they all be read at the end of the
paragraph? Or should each be read immediately after the location
where it is cited? I think the latter would be preferable, but have
zero experience with this.

John

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Conrad Taylor
2006-01-15 18:09:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by John Woram
Conrad Taylor wrote: "I don't know how such embedded notes would be
experienced by, for example, users of the JAWS screen-reader."
Nor do I, but I suppose almost any treatment of footnotes would need
careful consideration if the page is to be optimized for screen
readers. In that case, what happens if a lengthy paragraph has
several footnotes? Should they all be read at the end of the
paragraph? Or should each be read immediately after the location
where it is cited? I think the latter would be preferable, but have
zero experience with this.
Those are excellent points, John, and what they spur me to do
is to make enquiries with the Disability Group of the British
Computer Society, with whom I have done some work in the past,
to see if any evidence or opinions exist about this matter
within the blind/low-vision community. If I do learn anything
as a result, I shall report back.

Incidentally, this year's joint lecture of the Institution of
Electrica Engineers and the British Computer Society -- what
we call the "Turing Lecture" -- is by Chris Mairs of Data
Connection plc, who will speak on the subject of "Lifestyle
Access for the Disabled", on how today's hi-tech technologies
both liberate disabled users and make them dependent on those
technologies which are not always designed with them in mind.

The meeting is free, in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and
London, 23-26 January 2006.

http://www.bcs.org/BCS/Awards/Events/TuringLecture/Turing2006/

Conrad

--
Dave
2006-01-15 19:20:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Conrad Taylor
Post by John Woram
Put the footnote immediately after the paragraph
in which it is cited.
Which is what I did.
As not interrupting the text flow with (relevant) disgressions is the
whole point of footnotes, I'm not sure this is ideal.
Post by Conrad Taylor
To tell the truth, I don't know how such embedded notes
would be experienced by, for example, users of the JAWS
screen-reader.
It depends on their technical implementation, as something purely
javascript like http://www.bosrup.com/web/overlib/ is not going to
work, but something purely css like
http://synapse.kellishaver.com/2005/11/15/css-popup-thumbnails/ has
more of a chance.

That is, a pure css implementaiton uses the { display: none } css
declaration which JAWS will disobey, and thus actually work, but break
the W3C spec. More detailed explanation at
http://www.alistapart.com/articles/fir/
Post by Conrad Taylor
I reckoned conservatively it would be
best to place to note below the paragraph, and precede
each one with the word "Note".
Since this breaks the textflow, I imagine the best thing would be to
use old anchor tags plainly, like

<body>
<h1>Article</h1>
<p>Informative paragraph. <a href="#noteone"
name="noteonecitation1">(note one)</a></p>

<p>Blah blah blah rest of document.</p>
<p>....</p>
<p>Blah blah blah end of document.</p>

<h2>Notes</h2>
<p><a name="noteone">This is note one. </a><a
href="#noteonecitation1">(first citation)</a></p>
</body>

This is open to reprocessing with sifr2 style javascript into floaty
popups and such in an accessible way, if that's even required, which
as Conrad says is a bit of a usability booboo.

--
Regards,
Dave

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
John Woram
2006-01-15 22:15:30 UTC
Permalink
I don't have the JAWS software, but I tried a little test using CSS
media styles. I wrote a one-line paragraph that reads as follows:

This is a test to see what happens [ 1 ] THIS IS A FOOTNOTE with a footnote.

In IE and Firefox, the all-caps footnote is not seen unless the mouse
pointer hovers over the bracketed number. In Print Preview mode, the
bracketed number disappears and the all-caps footnote is seen --
handy for an actual print job, because the bracketed link is useless
on the printed page, and of course the footnote would not be seen.

So, if the JAWS reader will follow a media="aural" style which
duplicates the "print" style, then the same general procedure should
work. The reader would not respond to the bracketed number, but would
speak the contents of the footnote at the appropriate place in the text.

The test page is at http://www.galapagos.to/temp/footnote.htm -- not
a very polished example, but enough for a simple test. As a reality
check, the print mode displays the text in red, which can be seen in
print-preview mode, just to verify that the style is working.

John


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Conrad Taylor
2006-01-18 09:22:42 UTC
Permalink
I agree with Mark Barratt that the creation of a decent font is
not a trivial activity, and OpenType fonts with good hinting and
kerning tables and a large character repertoire are indeed a
challenge. I am also sympathetic to the view that people who
create such fonts should be paid for their work.

However, I also agree with those who have said here that to
prevent embedding of a font, be it in a Web page or a PDF file,
is not a clever move by small type foundries seeking to avoid
being ripped off.

Mark explains that there are peculiar reasons why Adobe and Microsoft
stay in the font business although it makes them no great profit,
and may indeed be a cost centre. In addition to Adobe's love of
type and their traditions, it also currently helps them in the
struggle against QuarkXPress to be able to bundle with InDesign
a small collection of excellent OpenType fonts that support glyph
substitution and contextual ligatures. If those fonts were not
included, few users would get to experience these powerful aspects
of Inesign's capabilities.

For Microsoft, fonts are part of the whole bundle of the operating
system and Office.

Mark neglected to mention Apple Computer, which also has deep
pockets and finances the development of fonts. The primary
effort here is to support the multilingual Mac. To give
three examples:

Al Bayan -- Arabic -- 265 glyphs
GungSeo -- Korean + -- 10,012 glyphs
ST FangSong -- Chinese + -- 32,493 glyphs

GungSeo is copyright Apple Computer and it looks as if it was
an internal Apple project; Al Bayan is copyright Apple Computer
but the design is credited to Al Bayan Studio; and FangSong is
copyright 2003 Changzhou SinoType Technology Ltd. Apple also
licenses Monotype fonts for South Asian languages.

It looks as if the only other way to make money out of designing
fonts is to get into the same sector of the business as Bruno
Maag operates in, namely, accepting commissions from large
companies and organisations who want to have their own font,
usually for reasons of corporate identity, but also because
as they then own exclusive rights to the font, they can use
it wherever they want, on tens of thousands of computers,
without paying additional licencing fees. Presumably where
corporate identity is involved, there are then other legal
sanctions available against outsiders who use the font
without permission...

= = = = = = = = = = =
Post by Mark Barratt
There are almost zero decent open-source fonts in the world
apart from Victor Gaultney's Gentium ...
This question has vexed me greatly over the years. I am glad
that Victor has given so much effort to the Gentium project,
and I've used Gentium on some African-language projects.
I believe the next four Twi-language projects published by
Mantra Lingua will use Gentium. A pity there are not more
quality fonts that support Twi: Ghanaian typesetting is a
painful thing to behold at present.

BTW I'm not convinced of the necessity for fonts to be open source,
so long as they are of good quality and ideally available freely.
Indeed the idea of people tweaking and recompiling their own
version of "OpenGloboFont" seems like a recipe for font-Babel.

But I would like it if there were more good quality OpenType
fonts with large character repertoires available at no cost,
because it could do a great deal to support the wider adoption
of Open Source computing, and at the same time support languages
which currently have inadequate support.

In one of my "if I ruled the world" moments some years ago,
I came up with the answer: collect a big pot of public and/or
donated money, and use it to hire some of these small but high
quality type foundries to design excellent free fonts which
would then be distributed under some kind of Creative Commons
licence.

I even chatted to Bruno about what he'd charge commercially to
develop a four-weight free font family. It wasn't too many tens
of thousands of pounds.

In my fantasy world, some possible sponsors would be:

(a) national governments seeking to implement huge
Open Source implementations domestically

(b) The European Commission (a free "EuropaFont" project
supporting all languages in the enlarged community,
plus Turkish)

(c) The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization, UNESCO.

Come to think of it, just a fraction of the expense on the recent
inconclusive UNESCO/ITU World Summit on the Information Society
would do wonders if spent in this way.

Of course, the likelihood of anything so sensible happening
seems miniscule.

Conrad
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Conrad Taylor: Information design & electronic publishing
Secretary, BCS Electronic Publishing Specialist Group (www.epsg.org.uk)
___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Conrad Taylor
2006-01-26 10:30:37 UTC
Permalink
I too have now had the opportunity to read Leslie Smolan's
article in The Washington Post, "My Designer Prescription
for Medicare's Ills".

Like David, I welcome Leslie's piece in that it does another
small bit to raise awareness in the media of the importance
of Information Design. I also agree with David that it is
an example of self-promotion (and David is well qualified to
recognise this... :-) ); and also that her piece is naive.

David also wrote: "This brings me back to some interesting
questions about the 'boundaries' of information design
problem solving..." That's what I want to explore.

- - - - -

No-one yet seems to have drawn attention to a distinction
between the problems that are caused by poor information-
gathering and information providing products (forms, bills,
statements, reports of medical examinations, Doppler scan
results), and the problems that are caused by dysfunctions
in information management. They might be symptoms of the
same underlying problem, or they may not. They differ in
how one tries to solve them.
From her personal perspective as a practising information
designer, Leslie is quick to prescribe "solutions" to the
mess in Medicare similar to the informative design of FDA-
mandated nutritional labelling.

Which would help. And many in the Cafe are engaged in such
helpful activities as redesigning hospital wayfinding systems,
producing clearer patient information leaflets, designing
health promotion literature, designing medical forms and
so on. As are people in the UK's "Designers in Health"
network.

But many of the problems she identifies cannot be solved by
redesigning pieces of paper. I think she realises that when
she cites the healthcare programme run by the US Department
of Veterans' Affairs "which switched recently to an electronic
records system and has since reaped the benefits in terms of
improved care and a 50 percent reduction in costs per patient."

She describes a healthcare system which is radically fragmented,
where the bits don't join up. Where methods of record-keeping
are different, and different practitioners and service providers
can't agree on the meaning of vocabularies. Where information is
increasingly (but by no means universally) handled in electronic
form, but where electronic record-keeping systems cannot talk to
each other.

This is not a situation unique to the United States of America.
For example, until quite recently, if I was sent by my doctor
(GP) to have a blood test at the local hospital, the blood test
results could be accessed electronically and instantly by any
of the clinics within the hospital (diabetes & endocrinology,
lipid etc) -- but to get to my doctor, they had to be printed
onto paper and sent in the post. The hospital system wouldn't
mesh with the EMIS system used at our local health centre.
The receptionist then scanned the pieces of paper so that the
image of the test results could be called up on the doctor's
computer screen. Being merely an *image* of words, of course,
the scanned record is not subject to any kind of sophisticated
search & retrieval or statistical compilation.

With huge expenditures of effort and money, national health
services around the world are starting to tackle this issue
of health informatics balkanisation. As Ian Herbert of the
British Computer Society Health Informatics Committee noted
in a talk in April 2004, "Technology is the easy bit."

Describing the British National Health Service's effort in
this direction, Ian said:

[This is] the NHS's biggest change programme ever.
And it's going to go to places that haven't seen a
computer yet... It requires a new attitude to
information by clinicians. It requires a much
greater percentage of structured clinical data to
drive things like decision support. Without structured
data, you can't have computer-based decision support.
And it's consciously re-engineering some healthcare
processes. [1]

This requires getting all the players in the process to agree
to make their information systems conform to standards. Without
shared standards, there can be no interoperability of systems,
and no joined-up information transfer, and no Electronic Patient
Records. For example, the British NHS has decided to adopt the
medical terminology standard SNOMED CT [2], the construction of
which in itself has been no mean task:

-- 366,170 health care concepts, organised hierarchically
-- 993,420 descriptions of these concepts
-- 1.46 million documented semantic relationships

I've mentioned the British effort as that's where I'm based,
but quite a lot of what I read credits the Australian Institute
of Health and Welfare for having pioneered a lot of the joined-
up thinking about health informatics and electronic medical
records. Other agencies beavering away on this include the
Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI); Direction
de la recherche, des études, de l'évaluation, et des statistiques
(DREES) in France, and the National Research and Development
Centre for Health and Welfare (STAKES) in Finland.

Approaches towards a joined-up information infrastructure
in the USA, however, seem to be much further behind, if I
may judge from the various manifestos and documents of the
US Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
(HIMSS). Incidentally, their document "EHR and the Return
on Investment" is worth reading beside Leslie Smolan's
article, firstly because it addresses the infrastructural
issues better than she does, and secondly because it goes
some way towards quantifying the waste in money and human
lives that the current mess causes. [3]

It's also worth reading the Australian document "Foundations
for the Future" to get a sense of what is involved in getting
health information and informatics to join up across the board.
[4]

That document, interestingly, introduces an abbreviation I
had not seen before: IM&ICT. It lumps together "Information
Management" and "Information and Communications Technology".

David's reference to the boundaries of information design
problem solving increasingly suggests to me that ID needs
to talk to IM&ICT!

Conrad



--------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Ian Herbert: talk to the BCS Specialist Groups Assembly.
MP3 download available from http://www.epsg.org.uk/sga/

[2] http://www.snomed.org/snomedct/

[3] "EHR and the Return on Investment" -- PDF available from
the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
http://www.himss.org/ASP/topics_FocusDynamic.asp?faid=35

[4] Foundations for the Future: Priorities for health
informatics standardisation in Australia, 2005-2008.
Developed by the Information and Communications
Technology Standards Committee (ICTSC) 2004.
http://www.ahic.org.au/downloads/Foundations%20for%20the%20future.pdf
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Conrad Taylor: Information design & electronic publishing
Secretary, BCS Electronic Publishing Specialist Group (www.epsg.org.uk)

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-27 22:20:36 UTC
Permalink
Conrad,
Post by Conrad Taylor
Like David, I welcome Leslie's
piece in that it does another
small bit to raise awareness in
the media of the importance of
Information Design.
Maybe. But at what cost?

To the extent that ID has a branding problem, I would submit
that this sort of thing really doesn't help.

A design engineer I know was so turned-off by her first
paragraph that he wouldn't have kept on reading if I hadn't
asked him to.
Post by Conrad Taylor
From her personal perspective as
a practising information designer,
Leslie is quick to prescribe
"solutions" to the mess in
Medicare similar to the informative
design of FDA-mandated nutritional
labelling.
And IMO, this is a big part of the problem.

I thought the whole point of ID was to get beyond "personal
perspective," not simply substitute one narrow perspective
for another. (I.e., I thought our aim was "information
pluralization," to borrow from the feminist lexicon ... and
I leave it to others to come up with more felicitous
phrasing. ;-)

Plus, Smolan's understanding of the FDA design solution (for
a *much* simpler problem than that presented by Medicare
billing and the prescription drug benefit) is skewed by her
personal perspective.

The activist group, Center for Science in the Public
Interest (CSPI), was certainly a -- if not the -- driving
force behind the design of FDA-mandated nutritional labeling.

(And CSPI does some first-rate ID, btw.)
Post by Conrad Taylor
And many in the Cafe are engaged
in such helpful activities as
redesigning hospital wayfinding
systems, producing clearer patient
information leaflets, designing
health promotion literature,
designing medical forms and so on.
Yes.

I, too, think this is important work.

But I also think that its true value is obscured by pieces
like Smolan's, which are caught up in what I consider to be
an out-moded paradigm.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's high time for a
paradigm shift ... or what Mick would call, borrowing from
Lakoff, a new "frame."

I don't think that good information designers lack
information management skills. Quite the contrary. E.g.,
Caroline Jarratt wouldn't have put in 15 years on a form
redesign project if she hadn't been concerned about -- and I
suspect very involved with -- information management issues.

But definitions of ID such as Smolan's "clear thinking made
visible" exclude from the outset all the mess and
complexities -- and creative opportunities! -- of the
information context.

I know I'm being especially ornery about this ;-) ... but
it's a pet peeve of mine. Too often, other professionals
with whom I collaborate assume that I think this way, too,
and it's a waste of time having to explain up front how and
why I don't.

But mostly, I object to the hubris of Smolan's piece: once
again, simplistic solutions for a partially-understood
problem are imposed on others by an outside professional
consultant, all in the name of (an almost antagonistic) user
advocacy.

I have quoted from (the feminist scholar ;-) Miriam Brody
before, and I want to do so again now, because I think her
more wholistic understanding of design as a creative
balancing act is more productive than Smolan's:

"A design admits the mutual interdependency of all its
constituent parts and idealizes that some coherence may
be wished for as the outcome of a multiplicity of
positions.... A design ... may serve our projects for
social justice better than the contest [i.e., agon] or
the cacophony [i.e., of difference], both of which allow
for nonnegotiated settlements."

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com
















___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
David Sless
2006-01-28 00:58:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
But I also think that its true value is obscured by pieces
like Smolan's, which are caught up in what I consider to be
an out-moded paradigm.
It's too easy to dismiss Smolan as an outmoded paradigm, though I
agree that it's inappropriate. Much the same has been said about
'plain English' and literacy for much the same reasons. See:
http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/
publication_id_52_187155692.html
and
http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/
publication_id_51_1936008496.html

Inappropriate as these modes of thinking are for solving complex
communication problems, they remain very popular and persistent, as
they do in many areas of professional practice. ID is not unique

One must also remember that alongside this way of thinking, there has
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
holistic understanding of design as a creative balancing act.
This is not a new paradigm.

I don't know Miriam Brody's writing, nor when she wrote, but my own
favorite quote on this--which I cite repeatedly--is from Mohly Nagy
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Design has many connotations. It is the organisation of materials
and processes in the most productive, economic way, in a harmonious
balance of all elements necessary for a certain function. It is not
a matter of facade, of mere external appearance; rather it is the
essence of products and institutions, penetrating and
comprehensive. Designing is a complex and intricate task. It is the
integration of technological, social and economic requirements,
biological necessities, and the psychophysical effects of
materials, shape, colour, volume, and space: thinking in
relationships (Moholy-Nagy 1938)[1].
Many designers in fields such as architecture, town planning, product
design etc. --and a few of us in information design-- have been
researching, working, and accumulating experience in this holistic
approach to design over many years. There is a vast literature on the
subject, a significant body of professional practice, and a growing
number of courses teaching people how to design in this holistic way.
It's true that many information design practitioners and teachers are
still living in a backwater, narrowly focused on slogans like
Smolan's "clear thinking made visible", but then that would be true
of almost any area of practice.

Talk about a need for a paradigm shift are a bit belated. This is not
a case of me saying 'been there, done that' but I am saying that
quite a few of us are THERE and doing it, teaching it, and pushing on
to new challenges. I think it's marvelous that so many people are
discovering this approach for themselves, but let's not waste time
reinventing the wheel, particularly in areas of great social need
such as health.

The reason for welcoming Smolan's piece is that it draws attention to
our expertise. Thoughtful readers will undoubtedly see it as naive
and self serving, but they may also think that a less naive approach
to information design--one more sensitive to the complexities--could
help. Those are the people who google us, ring us up, whose
organisations become members of our institute, and who support our work.

David

[1] Moholy-Nagy, L. (1938) The New Vision; Fundamentals of Design,
Printing, Sculpture, Architecture. (Trans) Dephne M. Hoffman. Norton,
New York.
--
Professor David Sless BA MSc FRSA
Director • Communication Research Institute of Australia
• helping people communicate with people •

60 Park Street • Fitzroy North • Melbourne • Australia • 3068

Mobile: +61 (0)412 356 795
Phone: +61 (0)3 9489 8640
web: http://www.communication.org.au



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-01-29 02:21:41 UTC
Permalink
David,
Post by David Sless
It's too easy to dismiss Smolan as
an outmoded paradigm, though I
agree that it's inappropriate.
By outmoded, I meant that the paradigm doesn't work any
longer, nor do I think it accurately describes "best
practices" in information design.

And this is a shame, because "best practices" would intrigue
people and attract genuine interest among many of those whom
Smolan will turn off.

I don't dismiss Smolan's perspective as passé, though. After
all, she's the one who was published in the Washington Post.
Post by David Sless
One must also remember that
alongside this way of thinking,
there has been a long tradition
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
holistic understanding of design
as a creative balancing act.
This is not a new paradigm.
No, it's not. (And I continue to study early modern design
paradigms from the 17th century, too, for what they still
have to teach on this subject.)

But it's not the dominant paradigm, either, even though I
would argue that it does in fact dominate best practices.
(And I doubt we disagree on this.)
Post by David Sless
I don't know Miriam Brody's writing,
nor when she wrote, but my own
favorite quote on this--which I
cite repeatedly--is from Mohly
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Design has many connotations. It
is the organisation of materials
and processes in the most
productive, economic way, in a
harmonious balance of all
elements necessary for a certain
function. It is not a matter of
facade, of mere external
appearance; rather it is the
essence of products and
institutions, penetrating and
comprehensive. Designing is a
complex and intricate task. It
is the integration of
technological, social and
economic requirements,
biological necessities, and
the psychophysical effects of
materials, shape, colour, volume,
and space: thinking in
relationships (Moholy-Nagy 1938)[1].
Very nice. (And it occurs to me that one thing that might be
useful to do is collect people's favorite quotes about
design, and what it means to be a designer. I can't think of
a better way to examine identities, practices, and guiding
paradigms than this.)

One of the things I find most interesting about Brody is
that she is NOT a designer.

She doesn't come at her appreciation of design -- and its
social contribution -- as an insider (the quotation I gave
is from her 1993 book _Manly Writing: Gender, Rhetoric, and
the Rise of Composition_).

Yet Brody recommends design as a model for feminist
politics. She suggests that we consciously reintegrate
design and designing within all facets of our lives -- a
very C17 notion of design, btw.

During the early modern period, design wasn't something
relegated to a professional class, but was a way of being
and thinking associated with character formation and the
"gentle" classes. In some circles, design activities were
part of daily life, and interwoven with personal (and
business) identities. My favorite example of this is from
Thomas Howard, 2nd earl of Arundel (1585-1646), who once
told John Evelyn

"That one who could not Designe a little, would
never make an honest man."

It is this ontological grasp of design which Brody shares,
and this, I think, is a significant development.
Post by David Sless
Talk about a need for a paradigm
shift are a bit belated. This is
not a case of me saying 'been
there, done that' but I am saying
that quite a few of us are THERE
and doing it, teaching it, and
pushing on to new challenges. I
think it's marvelous that so many
people are discovering this
approach for themselves, but let's
not waste time reinventing the
wheel, particularly in areas of
great social need such as health.
Are you saying here that a paradigm shift has already
occurred within the profession? (If so, then why doesn't it
appear as the public face of ID in the pages of the
Washington Post?)

I don't believe the paradigm shift is complete, and until it
is, repeated calls for one are not a waste of time. If
nothing else, they keep the momentum going.

As for those of us still discovering the mysteries of
design for ourselves, I'm quite sure this is a life-long
process that is less about "reinventing the wheel" than it
is about experiential learning. It's one thing to pay lip
service to the need for "thinking in relationships"; it's
another thing entirely to successfully implement this in
your work and life. And, of course, there will always be
situations (including in healthcare) where it is not
appropriate to do so.

In the end, these are personal and professional judgments
that have to be made by the individual. The fact that others
have done this before you doesn't obviate the need for you
to learn to do it yourself. A nurse who draws on decades of
experience caring for patients in burn centers or children's
cancer wards has a head start of a different sort when she
helps design a new standard for pain management ("on a scale
of 1 to 10, how much pain are you in?"). The number a
patient comes up with has a complex of meanings for medical
staff that even the most sensitive information designer will
not fully grasp. So it is right, I think, that nurses
continue on their own journey of discovery.

... And so with the rest of us who do information design in
our work, but do not identify as information designers.

We, too, can design our own communications.

Sometimes, even better than the professionals.
Post by David Sless
The reason for welcoming Smolan's
piece is that it draws attention
to our expertise. Thoughtful readers
will undoubtedly see it as naive
and self serving, but they may also
think that a less naive approach
to information design--one more
sensitive to the complexities--could
help. Those are the people who
google us, ring us up, whose
organisations become members of our
institute, and who support our work.
Presumably, Smolan's piece will bring her consulting firm as
much (perhaps more) publicity and new clients as it will
bring yours.

And so the clash of paradigms continues.... <bg>

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com





















___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
David Sless
2006-01-29 12:16:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Are you saying here that a paradigm shift has already
occurred within the profession? (If so, then why doesn't it
appear as the public face of ID in the pages of the
Washington Post?)
It's premature to talk about a profession or even a public face.
Moreover, the Washington Post is hardly the journal of record on such
matters. But we need to work collectively to ensure that the very
best of practices get the best attention. BTW, I hate the idea of
'best practice'. Suggests we have arrived. I prefer to think about
'good' and 'improving practices'.

Re our history: it amounts to nothing if we do not learn from it,
however far back we can trace it. My point was to suggest simply that
some of us have been trying to do so, and that is worth building on.

David
--
Professor David Sless BA MSc FRSA
Director • Communication Research Institute of Australia
• helping people communicate with people •

60 Park Street • Fitzroy North • Melbourne • Australia • 3068

Mobile: +61 (0)412 356 795
Phone: +61 (0)3 9489 8640
web: http://www.communication.org.au



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-02-01 05:58:48 UTC
Permalink
David,
BTW, I hate the idea of 'best
practice'. Suggests we have arrived.
I prefer to think about 'good' and
'improving practices'.
Good point. (Becoming over being ... my preference as well. ;-)

Here in the U.S., "best commercial practices" has an
interesting history, having been a loose contractual
standard for decades. E.g., if a contract didn't call for
"mil-spec" documentation, it was customary to propose
delivering documentation that met the standard of "best
commercial practices." (I actually used to have to write
this into proposals for projects that I bid.)

Of course, the standard had lots of wiggle room, which is
why contractors liked it.

It never did mean "the best," though.

It meant comparable, and by using it, you loosely positioned
your work somewhere in the upper end of what everybody else
was doing (i.e., above average).

It occurs to me now that such a specious standard led to the
I am battling with a crew at work
right now who want to accept a
"designer's" idea for a new
brochure. The body text is set in
sab serif caps and small caps in
pastel yellow and green on white
paper. It is difficult to see it,
more difficult to see that it is
"text", and even more difficult
to read. But it's "nice-looking."
(And you complain about as well in your CRIA papers, all of
which recommended titles I have now read. ;-)

Judgment based on a document's "looks" (rather than its
appropriateness ... or effectiveness ... or usefulness ...
or other more substantive measures of the communication of
ideas and information) is still pretty much the standard
over here.

So maybe what we need, more than a paradigm shift, are new
standards. ;-)

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com


















___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Frank Wales
2006-02-01 13:13:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Judgment based on a document's "looks" (rather than its
appropriateness ... or effectiveness ... or usefulness ...
or other more substantive measures of the communication of
ideas and information) is still pretty much the standard
over here.
We work with graphic designers a lot when putting together
web sites. We figured out after a little while that
we have to give them actual copy for pages they're
designing, and we insist that they use it in their designs.

Otherwise, they tend to use gibberish or 'lorem ipsum' text.
The major problem this causes is that everyone knows they
can't read that stuff, so they tune it out as stuff to read.
The consequence is that no-one *tries* to read it during the
design process. Hey, presto, everyone ends up buying
into good-looking but unreadable designs.

By getting the designers to incorporate representative
text into their proposed designs, (as well as providing them
with some guidelines about font size, contrast, and so on),
we've found that it helps them to create designs that will
actually work for readers. Even if the designers don't read
the design while they're working on it, the clients do when
they see it. This makes it much easier to have a dialogue
about readability, and about the factors that affect it.
--
Frank Wales [***@limov.com]
___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-02-01 14:01:40 UTC
Permalink
Even if the designers don't read the design while they're working on it,
the clients do when they see it. This makes it much easier to have a dialogue
about readability, and about the factors that affect it.
This is a good idea, thanks.

As part of the battle over this brochure, I ran across a typography book
for non-designers, and confirmed that I'm not losing my mind: Its
recommendations (high contrast between text and background, font-size,
serifs in print but not screen, etc.) were the same old things I learned
twenty years ago. And then I picked up an issue of 3DWorld, the premier
British mag on 3D modeling. I love this magazine, and I struggled painfully
through the articles set in sans serif 7pt type (I measured it with a Pica
stick) scarcely a printer dot wide. My hair is thicker than this font
(Yeah, I measured that too). Most of the copy is black on white, but
there's quite a bit of black on other and black on photo, and a variety of
colored body text, some of it illegible.

Then I hit a product review table in the back. The rows were alternately
white and pale green, and the text was less pale green. I actually tried to
read one green on green box with a magnifying glass under hard light (and
yes, they use paper so glossy that it glares at the wrong angle), and STILL
could not make out what they thought of the product in question! I
literally could not read the text.

When I finished reading the magazine (before the experiment with the
magnifying glass), I had a headache. I don't get it. This magazine is not a
glossy "See what I can do!" picture mag; they sell highly technical,
detailed tutorials and how-to's for solving problems in $4-$20K software
tools. Are people actually enjoying this presentation mode? Do they want it
(as opposed to passively expecting it)? I can see that the font size is a
way to keep the cost down (a US subscription is $90/year), but if you can't
read the type, what good is that? I was so impressed with the content that
I considered, for the multiplth time, subscribing. But as with every other
occasion, I thought, "$90 bucks for an illegible magazine? Have you lost
your mind?" and that's the end of that.

My theory is that the decline of legibility as a printing value is directly
connected to the rise of a special kind of illiteracy. We traditionally
think of the illiterate as people who CAN'T read. Lately they have been
joined by masses of what I think of as "theologically illiterate": the
people who DON'T WANT to read. They know how, but they aren't willing. I
meet them every day:

"Can't you reduce this [5 pg white paper on pollution legislation] to
bullet points?"
"Three paragraphs [introduction]? You expect people to read all that? Cut
to the chase!"
"Give me the summary, Ok? I don't have time to read the novel [same white
paper] and I can't wait for the movie."

Understand, these are not criticisms of "wordiness." These are literate
people who want significant volumes of information. They want to know what
is in that white paper (which is a condensation of research, interviews,
and a 60-page parent report). They actually want to be able to use it to
make themselves knowledgeable enough to perform on the subject in front
of hostile media. But they want to somehow gain this patina of expertise
without reading. And I find myself thinking, "If not reading, HOW???" No,
wait, PowerPoint. Duh. With animations! And Enya songs. A dancing Atlantic
Salmon.... Subliminal pictures of Bono and Ian Anderson.... Never mind.

M
--
Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 267.14.20/234 - Release Date: 1/18/2006


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Frank Wales
2006-02-01 17:27:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mick McAllister
Even if the designers don't read the design while they're working on
it, the clients do when they see it. This makes it much easier to
have a dialogue
about readability, and about the factors that affect it.
This is a good idea, thanks.
You're welcome.
Post by Mick McAllister
My theory is that the decline of legibility as a printing value is
directly connected to the rise of a special kind of illiteracy. We
traditionally think of the illiterate as people who CAN'T read. Lately
they have been joined by masses of what I think of as "theologically
illiterate": the people who DON'T WANT to read. They know how, but they
For many people, there are quicker ways to 'get' some information
than reading it. Graphic designers especially seem to be the kind of
people who cope better with information that isn't all paragraphs
(unless every designer I've ever worked with is unrepresentative).

Also, in a business context, much of the information you get
flung at you is not something you have to retain, it's just something
you have to read enough of to take a decision. I can sympathize
with those who get sent piles of verbiage every day, mostly prepared
by people who couldn't write a shopping list, and who are somehow
expected to extract salient points from it by the 11 o'clock meeting.

My lawyer once suggested that you can get further if you write
reports as if they're for morons in a hurry. This takes more
effort in the writing, but ultimately, if what you write isn't
attended to, why are you writing it anyway?
Post by Mick McAllister
But they want to somehow gain this patina of expertise without reading.
You need to work with journalists, if you haven't done so already.
Good ones have a knack of picking up enough of a topic over a
cup of coffee to be able to ask, and understand, salient questions
without having a deep understanding of the field. Of course,
good journalists know how to read. :-) (They're also
one of the three categories of people who can type quickly,
the other two being computer programmers and secretaries.)
Post by Mick McAllister
And I find myself thinking, "If not
reading, HOW???" No, wait, PowerPoint. Duh. With animations! And Enya
songs. A dancing Atlantic Salmon.... Subliminal pictures of Bono and Ian
Anderson.... Never mind.
You forgot the grainy, black-and-white wobblevision inserts of the
interviewee's hands with a SMPTE timecode running in the corner,
the giveaway sign of an aspiring pop-video director too cowardly
to quit his cushy corporate job.
--
Frank Wales [***@limov.com]
___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Dave
2006-02-03 14:22:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mick McAllister
My theory is that the decline of legibility as a printing value is directly
connected to the rise of a special kind of illiteracy. We traditionally
think of the illiterate as people who CAN'T read. Lately they have been
joined by masses of what I think of as "theologically illiterate": the
people who DON'T WANT to read. They know how, but they aren't willing. I
http://www.answers.com/aliterate :-)

--
Regards,
Dave

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
David Sless
2006-02-02 02:19:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
So maybe what we need, more than a paradigm shift, are new
standards. ;-)
Deborah,

I agree. Quite a bit of our own work has been directed at this. When
we started our work at CRIA back in the 1980s the research question
uppermost in our mind was whether or not generalized design methods,
such as those proposed by Chris Jones [1] could be successfully
applied to the solution of communication/information design problems.

By 1990 we had undertaken sufficient projects in this area to suggest
three things:
1. Generalized design methods, with some adaptation, were applicable
to communication/information design problems [2]
2. Part of the process of adaptation to communication/information
design problems involved a re-conceptualizing of the nature of
communication processes, and the nature of 'problems' [3]
3. The evidence clearly showed that applying these methods and ways
of thinking led to large and measurable improvements in communication
with consequent improvements in productivity, customer relations, and—
most importantly—improvements in fairness.[4]

Having established that applying certain methods led to measurably
desirable improvements in communication, we shifted our attention to
asking questions beyond 'improvement' to questions of how much
improvement was possible, and when is 'good performance' good enough.
For example, in the area of forms we asked how far was it possible—by
using information design methods—to reduce the errors people made
filling in forms. We have yet to publish our findings on that
question, but when we do it will probably come as a surprise to many.
In other areas, such as medicines information, we have published a
lot of data [5]

By the mid 1990's we were using these research findings to set
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
new standards . ;-)
We first used these in the public domain in the guidelines we wrote
for the Australian Government to help the pharmaceutical industry
write medicines information leaflets[6]. We have since adapted
similar standards in many areas. We use them as a matter of routine
in privately commissioned work. But our most exciting work (imo) is
the way we have been able to incorporate both the methods and
standards into government regulations. [7 and 8]. This is where I
think we can make a real difference to the way in which information
design is valued.

Now this is all, of course, unashamedly self promotion for cria--part
of my job. But there is a more important issue, which is the extent
to which we can make this accumulated know-how available more broadly
to improve practices in information design and train the next
generation of information designers so that the appalling problems
described by Frank and Mick (and experienced by many), when working
with graphic designers, do not continue.

One of the ways we have been doing this is working with a small
number of universities helping them develop curricula in the area,
and providing access to our publications and know-how. We are also
developing some on-line training programs and making as much of our
'commercial-in-confidence' research available, as we can.

Beyond that, we will be initiating a 'Fellowship' program shortly,
that will enable us to share our own and others know-how more
broadly, for the public good. Coupled with a few other initiatives,
we hope that
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Judgment based on a document's "looks" (rather than its
appropriateness ... or effectiveness ... or usefulness ...
or other more substantive measures of the communication of
ideas and information)
will gradually recede.

But to make this happen we all need to build collectively on what has
already been done and demonstrate the value of good practices, rather
than just complaining about current examples of bad practice.

References
[1] Jones C J 1980
Design Methods: Seeds of Human Futures
London: Wiley

[2] Sless D 1992
What is information design?
In Penman R & Sless D Eds Designing Information for People
Canberra: Communication Research Press 1–16

[3] Sless D 1997
Theory for Practice
http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/
publication_id_54_417218731.html

[4] Fisher P & Sless D 1990
Information design methods and productivity in the insurance industry
Information Design Journal 6/2 103–129
http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/
publication_id_85_149746393.html

[5] http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/
publication_id_90_794611663.pdf
http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/
publication_id_93_1567681995.html

[6] Sless D & Wiseman R 1994
Writing about Medicines for People: Usability Guidelines for Consumer
Product Information
Canberra: Department of Health and Human Services
http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/
publication_id_81_1500566619.html

[7] http://www.tga.gov.au/docs/pdf/tgo/tgo69a.pdf

[8] medicine labelling code of practice
http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/
publication_id_72_789425683.pdf

David
--
Professor David Sless BA MSc FRSA
Director • Communication Research Institute of Australia
• helping people communicate with people •

60 Park Street • Fitzroy North • Melbourne • Australia • 3068

Mobile: +61 (0)412 356 795
Phone: +61 (0)3 9489 8640
web: http://www.communication.org.au



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-02-08 00:02:01 UTC
Permalink
David,

Sorry for the delay. I'm trying to balance too many
different projects right now....
Post by David Sless
Now this is all, of course,
unashamedly self promotion for
cria--part of my job. But there
is a more important issue, which
is the extent to which we can
make this accumulated know-how
available more broadly to improve
practices in information design
and train the next generation of
information designers so that the
appalling problems described by
Frank and Mick (and experienced by
many), when working with graphic
designers, do not continue.
But how does your training the next generation of IDers
change the practices of graphic designers?

And why would this even be a goal?

Mick's 2 examples of illegible design were a brochure and a
glossy magazine on 3D modeling.

Why should graphic designers producing a brochure for a
high-tech company in a niche industry be guided by your
research on designing better labels for medicines?

There's plenty of literature by graphic designers for
graphic designers (and for non-designers, like Robin
Williams' _The Non-Designer's Design Book: Design and
Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice_) that also
teaches to a higher standard, values readability, and is
easier to generalize from than, e.g., your case histories #3
and #5.

I am not challenging CRIA's "accumulated know-how" here, but
I am questioning why you think it should supercede similar
"know-how" in other disciplines.

You refer to the extensive
Post by David Sless
process of adaptation
required to make
Post by David Sless
Generalized design methods [...]
applicable to communication/
information design problems
And I would say that the same thing holds for
communication/information projects across the board.

Take your case history #5 on the Panadol instructions, for
example.

Reader-response theory (and old-style discourse analysis,
such as James Kinneavy's _A Theory of Discourse_), plus lots
of work experience, all tell me that your study used too
small a sample (only 10 people, as I recall) to be
representative of the sort of mass, but highly
differentiated, audience a designer of a medicines label
would address in the States ... nor is there any discussion
of the assumptions and controls which guided your study, so
that I can properly weigh the study's bias against its findings.

In an earlier e-mail, Frank Wales raised the issue
Post by David Sless
in a business context, much of
the information you get flung at
you is not something you have to
retain, it's just something you
have to read enough of to take
a decision.
and I think this applies to your study as well, although
reader intent and need-/desire-to-know does not appear to
have been accounted for (and indeed, the various scenarios
in which a reader of a medicine labels processes information
would be difficult to artificially construct in the lab,
anyway).

My point here is that readers do not read pill labels the
same in a test environment as they do in the aisle of a
drugstore when comparing brands ... or when reading a label
together with the pharmacist ... or when reading the label
in the privacy of their own home, after having talked it
over with a doctor, who told the patient to ignore the
recommended dosage on the label and follow a different
regimen ... and so on.

From my own experience, I would say that comprehension and
retention of information on a medicine label is probably
governed more by factors such as reader motivation and
generic protocols than it is by design.

This doesn't mean that a well-designed pill bottle is a
wasted effort. It is not. E.g., more attractive,
easy-to-read packaging may well influence me in purchasing
one over-the-counter medicine rather than another. And I
will always be thankful for a well-designed label that makes
reading the tiny print on a pill bottle any less of an
arduous chore. But in my case, it doesn't really mean much
whether I retain the expiration date of a medicine N% better
with one label design than I do with another.

This information is of (very) limited value to me, so I
won't retain it for long, regardless of how well it's
presented. There's simply no need. And this is true of all
the information on a medicine label, really. It's highly
situation-specific. I will scan the label for whatever
information I need to take whatever action or make whatever
decision I have to, and then promptly forget it.
Post by David Sless
But to make this happen we all
need to build collectively on
what has already been done and
demonstrate the value of good
practices, rather than just
complaining about current
examples of bad practice.
I don't think there's any shortage of "good practices" out
there. And most designers keep plenty of examples on hand (I
personally have boxes -- and bookshelves -- full of design
samples which I've collected over the years).

I also think that "complaining about current examples of bad
practice" is helpful -- especially when what I would
consider "bad practice" continues to get good press and be
recommended by professional authorities who ought to know
better.

But mostly, I think we have a deeper disagreement here,
neatly captured in your use of the phrase "complaining
about" and my counter-phrase to this: "still defining the
problem."

You have stated several times now that CRIA has moved beyond
Post by David Sless
Having established that applying
certain methods led to measurably
desirable improvements in
communication, we shifted our
attention to asking questions
beyond 'improvement' to questions
of how much improvement was
possible, and when is 'good
performance' good enough.
Most designers, I think, in whatever fields, learn early on
in their careers that "good enough" is usually the preferred
standard in business, and that striving for an elusive
"perfection" is misguided, and probably a waste of time and
effort.

(This is especially true of engineers, who must learn how to
make the right performance trade-offs early on in the design
phase.)

So in the areas where I work, there's no big mystery -- or
anything new -- about thinking of design in terms of
trade-offs. Indeed, that's the mark of a mature designer.

But doing a comprehensive and accurate "needs assessment"
(including problem definition) is still the most difficult
thing I do. And conversations from experience -- such as
Mick and Frank and Dave just had over "aliterates" ;-) --
helps me with that, by adding to my accumulating databank of
situations and strategies.

So for me, critical assessment of (or "complaining" about)
the status quo is not something I need to just somehow get
beyond.

It is a core part of what I do ... and of how I learn to do
what I do even better.

I am still very interested in making "desirable improvements
in communication" -- e.g., at my Web site, or even in my
posts to this list ;-) -- and there is no single set of
methods in place at CRIA or elsewhere that will help me do that.

I agree that we need to "build collectively on what has
already been done," but to me, this entails a heavy dose of
critical thinking about the ins-and-outs of a wide range of
practices, good and bad. In my experience, there is often
more to be learned from the failures than the successes, and
so I tend to gravitate to these.


I also want to return to an earlier remark I made about
Post by David Sless
But I've yet to encounter the
sort of nuanced casuist arguments
needed to establish a well-
understood relationship between
analogous cases.
Casuistry, the "ancient art of case reasoning" nicely
defined by Stephen Toulmin and Albert Jonsen as

"the analysis of moral issues, using procedures of
reasoning based on paradigms and analogies, leading
to the formulation of expert opinion about the
existence and stringency of particular moral
obligations, framed in terms of rules or maxims that
are general but not universal or invariable, since
they hold good with certainty only in the typical
conditions of the agent and circumstances of
action."

is being revived among (some) medical practitioners in the
U.S., and is central, I think, to any attempt at "build[ing]
collectively on what has already been done."

E.g., in your case history #3, you write:

"Through our Institute’s broader research program we
have been attempting to understand the actual
sources of poor productivity in information-
intensive industries and to develop ways for dealing
with them."

But your numbers on U.S. productivity (from 1990!, a very
long time ago on the speeded-up timescale of high-tech)
don't hold for all industries, and you give no sense that
worker "productivity," as well as the role played by IT in
this, are hugely controversial subjects over here.

Again, problem definition is key. (Interestingly enough,
much the same arguments have been made about the
introduction of new technologies within the home, with some
arguing that women's domestic productivity actually
decreased because of the new higher standards of
cleanliness, etc. which were marketed right along with new
household products.)

CRIA's case studies do not simply apply across the board,
any more than Smolan's redesign of the American Express
statement applies to Medicare billing procedures.

It takes a great deal of work and thought -- and yes,
complaining! -- to determine the "translational" value of
research. ("Director for Translational Research" is actually
a job title over here. ;-)

But your earlier call to cease "reinventing the wheel"
strikes me as an attempt to bypass the peer review process
(and by peers, I mean those who do information design,
across a wide range of fields ... all of whom you would have
implement CRIA policies & standards in their work, no
questions asked).

So my argument is that there's room -- and need! -- for lots
of different approaches to ID.

Those who seek to apply the latest in research from
"activity perspectives" rather than CRIA-approved methods
should be encouraged to do so.

Who knows? This could prove to be every bit as productive as
trying to apply principles of forms design for the insurance
industry to a biotech start-up.

Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com





















































___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
David Sless
2006-02-08 01:38:53 UTC
Permalink
Deborah,

You make too too many assumptions about what we do and why we do it.
Moreover, there are too many arguments based on the assumption that
because something is left unsaid it is neglected.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
But how does your training the next generation of IDers
change the practices of graphic designers?
It does because the institutions we are working with train graphic
designers who do information design as one of their subjects.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
I am not challenging CRIA's "accumulated know-how" here, but
I am questioning why you think it should supersede similar
"know-how" in other disciplines.
Nowhere do I argue about superseding anyones knowhow. Building on it,
yes. Why would I want to reinvent something that has taken
generations of know-how to accumulate?
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
And I would say that the same thing holds for
communication/information projects across the board.
Not sure I understand the point you are making
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Take your case history #5 on the Panadol instructions, for
example.
Reader-response theory (and old-style discourse analysis,
such as James Kinneavy's _A Theory of Discourse_), plus lots
of work experience, all tell me that your study used too
small a sample (only 10 people, as I recall) to be
representative of the sort of mass, but highly
differentiated, audience a designer of a medicines label
would address in the States.
It would take me too long here to point out the problems with what
you claim. The choice of numbers of people is actually critical. As a
starting point you should understand that we are not in the business
of testing people but testing documents. You might find it useful to
look at:
http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/publication_id_94
This summarizes some of our own and others research on this topic. I
am, as it happens, in the middle of writing a much longer review of
USA Labelling Comprehension Studies, and why, despite their large
sample sizes, they don't lead to good design of labels. But you jump
too quickly. Instead of pointing to what you think of as fault, why
not ask 'i wonder why they think using such small numbers is OK'.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
In an earlier e-mail, Frank Wales raised the issue
Post by Frank Wales
in a business context, much of
the information you get flung at
you is not something you have to
retain, it's just something you
have to read enough of to take
a decision.
I would not disagree with this.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
and I think this applies to your study as well, although
reader intent and need-/desire-to-know does not appear to
have been accounted for (and indeed, the various scenarios
in which a reader of a medicine labels processes information
would be difficult to artificially construct in the lab,
anyway).
My point here is that readers do not read pill labels the
same in a test environment as they do in the aisle of a
drugstore when comparing brands ... or when reading a label
together with the pharmacist ... or when reading the label
in the privacy of their own home, after having talked it
over with a doctor, who told the patient to ignore the
recommended dosage on the label and follow a different
regimen ... and so on.
Yes, so what is the point you are making?
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
From my own experience, I would say that comprehension and
retention of information on a medicine label is probably
governed more by factors such as reader motivation and
generic protocols than it is by design.
Yes?
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
This doesn't mean that a well-designed pill bottle is a
wasted effort. It is not. E.g., more attractive,
easy-to-read packaging may well influence me in purchasing
one over-the-counter medicine rather than another. And I
will always be thankful for a well-designed label that makes
reading the tiny print on a pill bottle any less of an
arduous chore. But in my case, it doesn't really mean much
whether I retain the expiration date of a medicine N% better
with one label design than I do with another.
Where do we mention 'retaining' information?
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
This information is of (very) limited value to me, so I
won't retain it for long, regardless of how well it's
presented. There's simply no need. And this is true of all
the information on a medicine label, really. It's highly
situation-specific. I will scan the label for whatever
information I need to take whatever action or make whatever
decision I have to, and then promptly forget it.
Yes, I cannot agree with you more. Where do I say anything to the
contrary?
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
I also think that "complaining about current examples of bad
practice" is helpful -- especially when what I would
consider "bad practice" continues to get good press and be
recommended by professional authorities who ought to know
better.
I prefer to think of what one might do to change practice rather than
complain about bad practice, but thats a matter of preference
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
But mostly, I think we have a deeper disagreement here,
neatly captured in your use of the phrase "complaining
about" and my counter-phrase to this: "still defining the
problem."
You have stated several times now that CRIA has moved beyond
Not at all. I think you misread me. Have a look at our discussion of
'wicked' problems in
http://www.communication.org.au/cria_publications/
publication_id_96_1593902868.html
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
So in the areas where I work, there's no big mystery -- or
anything new -- about thinking of design in terms of
trade-offs. Indeed, that's the mark of a mature designer.
I agree!
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
But doing a comprehensive and accurate "needs assessment"
(including problem definition) is still the most difficult
thing I do.
Me too!
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
I am still very interested in making "desirable improvements
in communication" -- e.g., at my Web site, or even in my
posts to this list ;-) -- and there is no single set of
methods in place at CRIA or elsewhere that will help me do that.
Who said their was?
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
I agree that we need to "build collectively on what has
already been done," but to me, this entails a heavy dose of
critical thinking about the ins-and-outs of a wide range of
practices, good and bad. In my experience, there is often
more to be learned from the failures than the successes, and
so I tend to gravitate to these.
Me too!
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Casuistry, the "ancient art of case reasoning" nicely
defined by Stephen Toulmin and Albert Jonsen as
"the analysis of moral issues, using procedures of
reasoning based on paradigms and analogies, leading
to the formulation of expert opinion about the
existence and stringency of particular moral
obligations, framed in terms of rules or maxims that
are general but not universal or invariable, since
they hold good with certainty only in the typical
conditions of the agent and circumstances of
action."
is being revived among (some) medical practitioners in the
U.S., and is central, I think, to any attempt at "build[ing]
collectively on what has already been done."
I agree
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
"Through our Institute’s broader research program we
have been attempting to understand the actual
sources of poor productivity in information-
intensive industries and to develop ways for dealing
with them."
But your numbers on U.S. productivity (from 1990!, a very
long time ago on the speeded-up timescale of high-tech)
don't hold for all industries, and you give no sense that
worker "productivity," as well as the role played by IT in
this, are hugely controversial subjects over here.
The paper was first published in 1990, a very long time ago! The
controversy you speak of arose as a result of what the evidence
showed in 1990. I'm well aware that the debate has moved on since
then. At the time we wrote that paper most people in the IT industry
simply assumed that more IT meant more productivity. Our paper on the
subject has been a contribution to that controversy.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
CRIA's case studies do not simply apply across the board,
any more than Smolan's redesign of the American Express
statement applies to Medicare billing procedures.
Who said they do?
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
But your earlier call to cease "reinventing the wheel"
strikes me as an attempt to bypass the peer review process
(and by peers, I mean those who do information design,
across a wide range of fields ... all of whom you would have
implement CRIA policies & standards in their work, no
questions asked).
On the contrary. One of the reasons why our work is in the public
domain, why we publish it in refereed journals as well as our own web
site is to expose our work to peer review. I don't keep tabs on these
things, but I would suggest that our work is far more scrutinized by
other information designers than almost any other information
designers work, most of which is not done in the public domain and is
not subject to any peer review.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
So my argument is that there's room -- and need! -- for lots
of different approaches to ID.
Yes indeed! Where do we say otherwise?
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Those who seek to apply the latest in research from
"activity perspectives" rather than CRIA-approved methods
should be encouraged to do so.
How do you know that the 'CRIA-approved methods' are not done from an
"activity perspective"?

Anyway, all this talk of
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
CRIA-approved methods
strikes me as a misreading of what we do and how we work.

We base what we do, as far as possible, on evidence. We use the
methods we use because they work. If they don't work in some
contexts, we try other methods. There is nothing 'approved' in our
work anymore than anyone else's.

We are what we do!

David
--
Professor David Sless BA MSc FRSA
Director • Communication Research Institute of Australia
• helping people communicate with people •

60 Park Street • Fitzroy North • Melbourne • Australia • 3068

Mobile: +61 (0)412 356 795
Phone: +61 (0)3 9489 8640
web: http://www.communication.org.au



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Deborah Taylor-Pearce
2006-02-13 04:10:26 UTC
Permalink
David,
Post by David Sless
You make too too many assumptions
about what we do and why we do it.
I'm sure I do. <bg>

A couple of weeks ago, I spent an entire Sunday reading the
papers you had recommended at your site.

And like all readers, I brought expectations to the task,
and made preliminary assessments about what I read.

You say at the end of your mail that I came away with
Post by David Sless
a misreading of what we do and
how we work.
This is entirely possible, especially since I'm integrating
2 very different sets of readings here (your posts to the
list, and the formal papers published at CRIA's Web site).

All I can do now is explain why I came up with the
(mis)reading that I did.

Yes, I *am* a critical reader (by academic training, if
nothing else), and I read published papers (in whatever
medium) with a rigor that I do not apply to conversational
exchanges, including listserv discussions.

I'm also going to be harder on anyone who presents
themselves as an expert, a teacher, or a model for others.

So while I didn't willfully misread your work, I did hold it
to a higher standard than you perhaps intended. E.g.,
Post by David Sless
The paper was first published
in 1990, a very long time ago!
The controversy you speak of
arose as a result of what the
evidence showed in 1990. I'm
well aware that the debate has
moved on since then. At the
time we wrote that paper most
people in the IT industry simply
assumed that more IT meant more
productivity. Our paper on the
subject has been a contribution
to that controversy.
Fine. But you recommended that I read this paper in 2006,
and in so doing, inferred that it had relevance well beyond
1990.

To me, the controversy is not just about whether or not the
introduction of IT into the workplace increases
productivity. It's about competing definitions of
"productivity" ... and about information design's
relationship to productivity, both *de facto* and *de jure*.

This may well be an example of my
Post by David Sless
assumption that because something
is left unsaid it is neglected.
But you must know that literary critics are trained to
fasten on what the theorist Pierre Macheray called "the
silences of the text."

Often it's what's unsaid -- and why it's unsaid -- that's
the most revealing.

But what's unsaid is always fair game when we're assessing a
research paper and its implicit claim to objectivity
(implied, e.g., by the use of statistics).
Post by David Sless
Nowhere do I argue about
superseding anyones knowhow.
Building on it, yes. Why would
I want to reinvent something
that has taken generations of
know-how to accumulate?
I think this trope of "reinventing the wheel" is at the crux
of our disagreement.

I do not find the metaphor persuasive, for several reasons.

First, I tend to think of my design work in precisely these
terms: that is, as *inventio* (in the rhetorician's sense
of "finding again or reassembling from past performances, as
opposed to the romantic use of invention as something you
create from scratch").

Perhaps you would say that this is what you mean by your
other phrase, "Building on it."

But I would say that, for me, design is more a process of
reinvention than construction.

I can't speak for others, but I am one of those who can only
build on my *own* work. I can reinvent others' accumulated
know-how (and do so regularly), but I cannot build on the
know-how of others.

Second, the wheel is being reinvented all the time.

Today's wheel -- spherical casters, for instance, which can
roll in any direction; and square wheels on bicycles, which
give a smooth ride, even when cycling up a flight of stairs
-- doesn't look anything like the original wheel ... which
incidentally, was first reinvented by a woman, according to
ancient writers. <bg>

It was the goddess Ceres (aka Demeter, "the Resplendent
Mother", and a prominent figure in printers' marks, such as
one used in Hooke's _Micrographia_ and other C17 science
publications) who was credited with inventing the
one-wheeled chariot:

"*Hyginus* relates, in his 2d book, where he treats
_De Ophiucho_, that *Ceres* invented an one-wheel'd
chariot, which *Triptolemus* (whose nurse she was)
first made use of, for to make speed, to inform the
world of her bounty.... But how this one-wheel'd
chariot was contrived, or used, is not to be found
in history; mention there is, of other chariots,
with more wheels, in the ancient authors; so that
'tis clear, it was known and practised long before
any histories of heathen writers were publish'd."

This is from one of Hooke's lectures before the Royal
Society in 1685, wherein he went on to posit that the wheel was

"An invention of so great use, that it seems
impossible ever to be lost by mankind, after it be
once known: which consideration makes me very much
wonder whence those men came, that inhabited
America, before the Spaniards over-running and
conquering of it; since it seems probable, that if
they, or their ancestors, had sprung from any people
here, on this side of the world, *viz.* from
*Europe*, *Asia* or *Africa*, they must needs have
carried along with them the useful invention of the
wheel; but it has been observed, that they knew
nothing at all concerning it, nor any the least use
of it, throughout all *America*, before the
*Europeans* came among them. So that we must
conclude, either that they were made inhabitants
before the invention of the wheels was found, or
that they never had any origination from any
generation of men in those parts of the world, at
least not from the *Tartars*, who, of all people, do
most frequently use them; but this by the by...."

Today, southern California teenagers ride in chariots with 4
wheels that are definitely "not your mother's" wheels (to
reinvent a popular advertising slogan ;-).

We're seeing an increasing number of 17-inch wheels on cars
(the standard used to be 14-inch) with much flatter tires
around them. The new wheel is even starting to come standard
with some models of car (and there's a similarly over-sized
version for pick-up trucks, too).

The functionality of this new design escapes me, especially
for trucks and vans with longer chassis that need as much
added shock absorption as they can get.

But then, I am not in the 20-something age bracket, and so I
make different tradeoffs.

What I do learn from the kids' new wheels, though, is that
it is the wheel's reinvention (rather than any traditional
"as is" use across generations) that adds the real use-value.
Post by David Sless
But you jump too quickly.
Instead of pointing to what you
think of as fault, why not ask
'i wonder why they think using
such small numbers is OK'.
I spent many hours reading your materials, so this wasn't a
"quick" jump.

Regardless, it is customary for technical reports (or formal
papers reporting research findings) to include an
explanation of guiding assumptions, especially when those
assumptions are as central to your case as was this.

So I believe the onus is on the author, not the reader, to
explain how such a small sample has statistical significance.

I'm not going to wonder why you think using a small sample
is OK, because I see it done this way all the time. In my
world, most people think small samples are OK.

So I'm going to assume you don't know any better, unless you
tell me otherwise.

Arguing from statistics is very tricky. If I'm one of those
readers who scrutinizes the numbers, rather than taking them
at face value, the lack of detail about research methods and
assumptions makes it look as though you're hiding something.
Post by David Sless
Where do we mention 'retaining'
information?
You don't. This was my word, not yours.

When you ask a person questions about the content of
something they have just read (including a medicine label),
we are talking about information retention (even if only in
short-term memory).

Again, I speak only for myself here, but if you had asked me
to look over one of your medicine labels, and then answer
questions about the expiration date, I probably wouldn't
have been able to recall it, regardless of the design.

I read tons of material, and have become very good at
*ignoring* information I don't need to know (and the
expiration date of a medicine, which you *did* ask subjects
about in your study, falls in this category).

It won't matter to me whether you place the expiration date
front and center of the design. I won't register it, because
I won't attend to it (unless I'm buying the product, in
which case I always check the expiration date).

It could be that you factored this sort of reader
recalcitrance into your study. (I know, for instance, from
one of your footnotes that Rob Waller did this when he used
design to lock readers into certain paths when filling out a
form.)

But since you don't describe anything about how your study
was conducted, I can't know this.
Post by David Sless
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
I am still very interested in
making "desirable improvements
in communication" -- e.g., at
my Web site, or even in my
posts to this list ;-) -- and
there is no single set of methods
in place at CRIA or elsewhere
that will help me do that.
Who said their was?
Again, this is a tonal thing I picked up from a combination
Post by David Sless
Dave, this is an old chestnut.
&
Post by David Sless
Talk about a need for a paradigm
shift are a bit belated. This is
not a case of me saying 'been
there, done that' but I am saying
that quite a few of us are THERE
and doing it, teaching it, and
pushing on to new challenges. I
think it's marvelous that so many
people are discovering this
approach for themselves, but let's
not waste time reinventing the
wheel, particularly in areas of
great social need such as health.
&
Post by David Sless
3. The evidence clearly showed
that applying these methods and
ways of thinking led to large
and measurable improvements in
communication with consequent
improvements in productivity,
customer relations, and— most
importantly—improvements in
fairness.[4]
&
Post by David Sless
Having established that applying
certain methods led to measurably
desirable improvements in
communication, we shifted our
attention to asking questions
beyond 'improvement' to questions
of how much improvement was
possible, and when is 'good
performance' good enough.
This latter statement in particular seemed to imply that
CRIA has reached some higher plateau than I, for one, am
ready for.

I'm still busy discovering, trying out, and evaluating
design methods for myself.

What has been "clearly" proven to you is not yet clear to
me, and so it doesn't transfer easily to my own design work,
whereas other things do.

That said, I still don't know enough about your
methods to be able to judge them one way or the other.
Post by David Sless
How do you know that the
'CRIA-approved methods' are
not done from an "activity
perspective"?
The answer is that I don't. (Another "silence of the text"? ;-)

But the reality is that I don't have unlimited hours to give
to this, either.

I can't possibly follow up on all the URLs in your last mail.

Right now, I have 2 design projects to get done by the 20th,
and am in the middle of several intense discussions with
(critical-minded ;-) scholars about C17 research.

If I thought reading more CRIA papers would help me develop
an identity and assortment of marketing materials for a
client by next Monday, I'd go have another look.

But I don't think that.

And so I'm going to rely on the same rhetorical theory I
always use to guide me in these circumstances.

I shall reinvent a couple of paragraphs of information I
just received from the client, transforming it into a
brochure and flier and business cards that fit with the
"whole communications plan" I have already developed for
this sole-proprietorship.

But I wouldn't recommend my rhetorical approach over CRIA's
evidence-based approach.

It's just what works best for me,
Deborah
_____

Deborah Taylor-Pearce
***@she-philosopher.com
































___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-02-10 12:24:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
There's plenty of literature by graphic designers for
graphic designers (and for non-designers, like Robin
Williams' The Non-Designer's Design Book
Interestingly enough, that is the very book I found the sanity check in. I
considered buying a copy for my "Who cares?" colleagues to sniff and piddle on.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
it doesn't really mean much whether I retain the expiration date of a
medicine N% better with one label design than I do with another.
The difference between designing/developing for retention and for ease of
use strikes me as fundamental. If it's easy to read the dosage on the
label, then I don't NEED to retain the information. The information I need
to retain is whether I took the dose, and I do that on a calendar.

Similarly, the real key to research is not knowing things but knowing how
to find out things. Retention is a parlor trick that adulates Trivial
Pursuit. Google's extraordinary success is driven by their understanding
that vast quantities of information are useless unless you have an
efficient way to dig through them. We whine about information overloads,
but the problem is not the amount of information, it's the inadequacy of
our filters and selectors.

Retention/Use is not driven by volume, either. I don't need to remember all
the equivocal crap on the back of my credit card "agreement," I just need
to understand it once, the first time I read it. I can't speak in a
scholarly mode to the differences between these two kinds of writing, but
in practice they are a part of my daily work. Often what I want retained is
an idea or a value, and the facts are just the notes that make the music.

M
--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 267.15.2/251 - Release Date: 2/4/2006


___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
David Sless
2006-02-11 00:01:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mick McAllister
The difference between designing/developing for retention and for
ease of use strikes me as fundamental. If it's easy to read the
dosage on the label, then I don't NEED to retain the information.
The information I need to retain is whether I took the dose, and I
do that on a calendar.
Indeed. This is what the design on labelling and much other medicine
information is about. It is about being able to FIND information and
USE it when you NEED it. Retention is a different matter. No less
important, in some circumstances, but not on a medicine label.

David
--
Professor David Sless BA MSc FRSA
Director • Communication Research Institute of Australia
• helping people communicate with people •

60 Park Street • Fitzroy North • Melbourne • Australia • 3068

Mobile: +61 (0)412 356 795
Phone: +61 (0)3 9489 8640
web: http://www.communication.org.au



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Mick McAllister
2006-01-29 12:59:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Post by David Sless
an outmoded paradigm, though I
By outmoded, I meant that the paradigm doesn't work any
longer, nor do I think it accurately describes "best
practices" in information design.
... don't dismiss Smolan's perspective as passé,
Post by David Sless
This is not a new paradigm.
No, it's not. (And I continue to study early modern design
paradigms from the 17th century,
The idea that a method is bad because it is "outmoded" is a great example
of the modern fixation on dismissing the past for the untested future.
DTP's research on boringly not-new, outmoded "best practices" of 300 years
ago, on the other hand, illustrates that sometimes our mania for the new
causes us to lose old things we should have valued. Many cultures offer,
very sensibly, as the control on trying some new thing (atomic bombs, for
example), that that's "not the way we do it." There is a difference between
"change" and "progress." Personally, I consider change a tool for evolution
and progress a disease like the Black Death.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
During the early modern period, design wasn't something
relegated to a professional class, but was a way of being
and thinking
this, I think, is a significant development.
Followed by the significant development that we replaced it with, the idea
that design (in the broad sense of communication) isn't "useful." I am
battling with a crew at work right now who want to accept a "designer's"
idea for a new brochure. The body text is set in sab serif caps and small
caps in pastel yellow and green on white paper. It is difficult to see it,
more difficult to see that it is "text", and even more difficult to read.
But it's "nice-looking." Not only does the designer not care if anyone
reads it, neither do the people who wrote it. My demand that the text be
black was a two-day battle earning me a new tick mark on my Old-fashioned
Curmudgeon score.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Are you saying here that a paradigm shift has already
occurred within the profession? (If so, then why doesn't it
appear as the public face of ID in the pages of the
Washington Post?)
:-)
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
As for those of us still discovering the mysteries of
design for ourselves, I'm quite sure this is a life-long
process that is less about "reinventing the wheel" than it
is about experiential learning.
I confess I was uncomfortable with the sudden reappearance of "paradigm
shift" in the forum, having lived through two or three. Until we have the
paradigm shift of learning to look for solutions rather than answers, we
can shift our paradigms as often as we adjust our cuffs and hemlines, and
it will be as meaningful.
Post by Deborah Taylor-Pearce
Post by David Sless
The reason for welcoming Smolan's
piece is that it draws attention
to our expertise.
Presumably, Smolan's piece will bring her consulting firm as
much (perhaps more) publicity and new clients as it will
bring yours.
There is a school of thought (nicely satirized in Jurassic Park as
"misinformed") that argues the best way to deal with a bear is to not draw
attention to oneself.

M
--
Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 267.14.20/234 - Release Date: 1/18/2006



___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Conrad Taylor
2006-01-27 09:52:37 UTC
Permalink
How timely.

A call for papers from the International Council on
Medical and Care Compunetics.

Conrad
We are proud to announce the third ICMCC Annual Event.
The ICMCC Event 2006 will focus on three main
themes. We invite you to submit papers for these
themes. Accepted papers will be published in
³Medical and Care Compunetics 3² (IOS Press -
"Studies in Health Technology and Informatics")
available at the conference.
For more detailed information please refer to www.icmcc2006.org.
1. Information supply to patient and professional.
The way we supply information towards patients,
but also towards professionals is most probably
going to be one of the major safety threats of
the near future. For patients it is not possible
to recognize the value of the information
available on the internet, nor can he see if
that information is biased in any way. For
professionals the problems with information
supply can be found in the immense amount of
publications and the vast spread over many
sources. Therefore we would like to focus our
o How to trace new issues (events, etc)
o How to validate information
o How to find (validated) information
o How to relate (validated) information (e.g. semantics)
o How to present (validated) information
(e.g. user-interfaces, user-interaction,
language, cultural aspects)
o How to share (validated) information
o Knowledge management, e-science, grid
technology, e-networking and other related
aspects.
2. Electronic health records, its standards, its social implications.
Although many technical issues concerning EHR
standards and the reference terminology involved
are still under discussion, ICMCC would like to
focus on further implications of electronic
o Patient safety and involvement
o Security
o (hospital) management consequences
o Interoperability
o Other related aspects, e.g. social records, archiving, insurance.
3. Developments in Medical & Care Compunetics
With the aim of being the worlds leading
one-stop shop on vision, policy, technology and
methodology for patient centered healthcare the
International Council on Medical & Care
Compunetics (ICMCC) is the leading event that
targets topical issues from a broad perspective
placed in the context of current policy but
always with the patient as the focus.
Authors are encouraged to focus their
contributions from a patients perspective and
o e-health
o telemedicine
o telehomecare
o assistive technology
o We would like to invite European Health
Projects to present papers and reports on the
status quo of their work.
For an extended list of topics please refer to
http://www.icmcc2006.org/php/show.php?p=call2006general.
Lodewijk Bos
Event Chair
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Conrad Taylor: Information design & electronic publishing
Secretary, BCS Electronic Publishing Specialist Group (www.epsg.org.uk)

___________________________________________________________________

Use the following address to post a message to all subscribers:
infodesign-***@list.informationdesign.org

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your options, visit:
http://list.InformationDesign.org/mailman/listinfo/infodesign-cafe

For all Information Design matters:
http://InformationDesign.org

Problems? Write to:
InfoDesign-Cafe-***@list.InformationDesign.org
___________________________________________________________________
Loading...