Posts Tagged ‘design’
4th December 12
Posted in Creativityforgood
When we look into our mystic crystal balls of the future, who knows what we’ll be using technology-wise? Well, we could just shrug our shoulders and wait to see, or we could roll our sleeves up and get involved on the front line of development.
The charity Royal London Society for the Blind has a dream about the future of tech and they came to us to see if we’d help them promote it.
It’s a concept called Everybody Technology, a dream that tech companies, developers and users all collaborate to create and design with everyone in mind, creating 100% inclusive technology.
To make concrete RLSB’s vision, we enlisted the help of the person who we felt would best deliver and represent both the disabled and able bodied – the great physicist Professor Stephen Hawking.
His words are a rallying call to developmental arms, being ‘spoken’ by men, women and children, from different cultures, backgrounds and abilities. It encourages joining the Everybody Technology group, to create a network of developers and users to drive a revolution in thinking forwards
The iPhone and iPad are certainly the modern day shining examples of this revolution, technology that each and every one can use, in very different ways. But it began way back in 1880 – with two Italian lovers. A blind woman, who couldn’t write to her partner had to dictate her sweet nothings to someone else aloud. Not very private – so to overcome the adversity, her husband invented the typewriter for her. Which developed into the keyboard this very post was tapped out on…
RLSB see a future where more technology originating for specific needs enters the mainstream, and vice versa, enabling everybody to live fantastic lives to our full potential. That’s a future we quite fancy living in.
If you agree and you’d like to get involved in Everybody Technology, then share our film or sign up to the group here.
2nd September 09
We’re moderately obsessed with the world of data visualisaton here at Labs for a number of reasons: the ability to generate fresh insight from extraordinarily complex data sets, the ability to trigger radical reappraisal of familiar problems, the ability to put consumers in control of the vast quantities of personal data they generate every day. Not to mention the extraordinary fusion of technology and creativity it represents.
We firmly believe that data visualisation has a wealth of exciting commercial applications, from communicating in new ways to developing new tools, apps and utilities for clients and consumers alike. So we’ve grown slightly frustrated by the rise of visualisations that are moderately pretty but add little in terms of real insight, utility or illumination.
We’re also, as we may have mentioned, big fans of Manuel Lima here at Labs. So we were intrigued to see that he has authored an “Information Visualisation Manifesto”, a provocative (but characteristically generous and nuanced) take on the future of data visualisation which tackles head on the thorny questions at the heart of this ever-expanding field:
- Art versus Science
- Intrigue versus Immediacy
- Aesthetics versus apprehension.
Manuel comes down firmly on the side of clarity of communication versus visualisation for visualisation’s sake, citing the discipline’s roots in the desire “to facilitate understanding and aid cognition” and a growing frustration with the “eye candy” approach to the craft. Many of his principles are rooted in this utilitarian approach, reading almost like a Bauhaus manifesto (and none the worse for that):
- Form follows Function
- Do not glorify Aesthetics
- Look for relevancy
- Aspire for Knowledge
It’s a bold, purist and punchy vision yet also acknowledges the power of narrative and the role of intrigue. Indeed the question of narrative seems to lie at the heart of this Manifesto; the need to pose a specific question of the data and to weave coherent themes and stories from it. These themes then drive the aesthetic approach. As Manuel puts it:
“Form doesn’t follow data. Data is incongruent by nature. Form follows a purpose, and in the case of Information Visualisation, Form follows Revelation”
This is perhaps the key distinction between Information Visualisation as defined here and what Manuel suggests we start thinking of as “Information Art”. Within this approach, artists will freely allow form to follow data, using the random-ness this creates to add texture and interest. Take, for example, Aaron Koblin’s desire to embrace the random-ness of a data set and indeed the richness and texture added to his famous Radiohead video by “interrupting the data”:
“I think it really gives character, because I think it’s really that kind of intricacy and detail that builds character and in a sense it’s the errors and flaws that make art”.Both approaches are undoubtedly valid. Within any medium there will be times when we seek immediacy and times when we are prepared to be intrigued and to explore. There will be times when we want to understand our world better and times when we want to turn perceptions of it on its head. I can think of few practical applications of, say, the “Synchronous Objects” visualisation series but it mashes up art forms and messes with my mind in a truly delightful way.
As ever, then, we need to return to objectives, to ask what we are trying to achieve:
- Do we want to educate around an issue, making complex questions simple?
- To shift perceptions and provoke a response?
- To offer a fresh perspective on an infrastructure question for our clients?
- To offer our consumers better comprehension and control of their behaviours?
Simply put, are we going to offer something that is either very, very useful or very, very beautiful? Either way, greater clarity of intent and greater discipline throughout the industry can only be an advantage in building credibility and engagement. Building that credibiltiy is vital if data viz is going to become not just an entertaining diversion but a vital tool for navigating a world generating more and richer data by the second.
If what we are building is neither very beautiful nor very useful, to Manuel’s final point “Avoid Gratuitous visualisations”: “Simply conveying data in a visual form, without shedding light on the portrayed subject, or even making it more complex, can only be considered a failure”.
Or as William Morris put it: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.
8th July 09
Posted in design
Mulling over the various excellent posts springing up on why there isn’t more great work in the digital space it struck me that one area rarely discussed is the fundamentally different definitions of what constitutes “great”.
Traditional agencies are instinctively drawn to disruptive work-work that stops the consumer in their tracks and forces them to pay attention. Digital specialists on the other hand are focussed on a smooth and seamless user experience. Ideas that disrupt this experience risk increasing bounce rates from a site for designers working to the 10 second stay-or-go “rule” . This tension between disruption and usability is so profound it’s hardly surprising that we struggle to find a common understanding of what great looks like, much less deliver it.
Traditional agencies in the digital space (and indeed traditional digital agencies) are easily seduced by the power of Flash and the wonders of animation; we want attention and spectacle but what happens next? Why should the user stay, what are we asking them to do and where should they go next? The campaign microsite is perhaps the prime expression of this tendency-as Iain Tate puts it, impressively punchily, in Campaign:
“No one cares about your bloody microsite. In 2009 the flashy high production value microsite is finally starting to feel irrelevant. Sites that seem to do everything, but deliver nothing.”
10th April 09
From the latter crowd I keep hearing this analogy that using Crowdspring is akin to outsourcing (complete with images of dank foreign sweatshops). If were going to trade in metaphors, I would counter by labeling this crowd protectionist. (Picture angry immigration opponents rallying to protect US jobs they probably don’t want in the first place.)
This isn’t outsourcing and this isn’t bootlegging. This is simply about an expanded marketplace. And as long as your product is best-in-market, you’ll always have best-in-market work at your door.
One last thing I need to note as some are accusing us of being exploitive and that bothers me greatly. (MORE BELOW)
3rd April 09
Posted in BBH Labs
Tasked with exploring new models for marketers, one of our first orders of business will be to hold an “open pitch” for our new logo. All interested designers please visit http://bit.ly/39yWEd for more on the deadline, the brief and the fee.
We’re posting a brief on Crowdspring well aware of the heated discussions taking place within the design community regarding sites that promote spec work. Though the crowdsourcing business model is still clearly in its infancy, BBH Labs reasoning for giving Crowdspring a try, simply put, is because the model seems to be working (albeit, better for smaller companies).
We’ve heard the arguments against Crowdspring. We’ve heard it said that it lowers the standard of what is considered “good” design. But for the purposes of this conversation, isn’t a “good” design one that pleases the person paying for it? I think Marley and Me is a “bad” film. My niece disagrees. So be it.
Another argument is that the Crowdspring model is akin to outsourcing, putting professional design work in the hands of untrained amateurs, and in the process, driving down the price real designers are able to charge for their services. If you’re a great designer, these sites shouldn’t be a threat since aspiring designers willing to work on spec is nothing new. If you’re a mediocre designer on the other hand, then consider that new technologies will only continue to make you better: just as the mouse made you better and Adobe Illustrator made you better, competing on a larger playing field should also make you better (and add to your bottom line).
I don’t want to sound overly insensitive, but evolution isn’t always orderly: we are living in a transformational period and in order to not be put out to pasture prematurely, entire industries are having to retrain themselves and rethink how business is going to be conducted going forward. From young designers to established agency networks, change is coming.
I’ll stop rambling now and come back to why we like Crowdspring. We see these sites as giving much more than they take. By matchmaking small businesses that wouldn’t have been able to otherwise afford a custom logo with a pool of designers that wouldn’t have otherwise been able to offer their services, they are helping to grow an overall appreciation for design as well as build an entirely new market that didn’t previously exist.
Will Crowdspring deliver Labs a great logo that meets our demanding and sophisticated needs? Not sure, but we’re looking forward to fishing these new waters nonetheless.