Brian's History of Communication Design Blog

Weekly exposition on recent learnings.


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Post-modernism Fallout

Although I was never a student in any of the post-modern history classes, they were decidedly present in my late 1980s college. Gay history. Feminist history. Black history.

And as a gay man, I made an effort to read books that re-emphasized the role of gay men and women throughout history. Especially on our history. Books that dealt with Stonewall and the gay liberation movement.

But the overall result of this is a fractured history. People need to have a comprehensive view of history that encompasses all of the minority viewpoints. There should be no need for separate hyphenated histories. All of our histories should be told as one.

Yes, that would make textbooks and class content much denser, but it would also make them much richer, and would offer everyone the chance to see themselves reflected within history’s pages without the need to break apart into dedicated courses at the university level.

I know there is some effort to do this, but I also know it is met with resistance. It is hard to change the normative approach.

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Sir Jonathan Ive

Jonathan Ive began working for Apple and designed the Newton’s MessagePad110. His breakthrough assignment was when he was tasked to design the first generation of iMacs. He has subsequently designed the iPod, the iPhone and more. He is now chief designer at Apple.

He is heavily influenced by Braun’s Dieter Rams, and in particular by Rams’ ten principles of good design.

According to Rams, good design:

  • is innovative
  • makes a product useful
  • is aesthetic
  • makes a product understandable
  • is unobtrusive
  • is honest
  • is long-lasting
  • is thorough down to the last detail
  • is environmentally friendly
  • is as little design as possible

 

Although I have no citation to back this up, Rams, and therefore Ive, may have have been influenced by the Bauhaus movement in their approach to design. The clarity and simplicity and modernism directly stems from the Bauhaus approach. (Thanks to Chris for pointing me in that direction.)


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The Age of Fingers

Digital refers to fingers, after all, as well as it does to numbers, and I suppose this deepens our connection to counting on our digits.

In a way, it is odd that there is a fetish for pixellation when the resolution of both monitors and printers is such, now, that a photographer like myself has long been able to produce images that are indistinct from their analog form, and, in fact, some photographers, working in digital media, fel the need to add in film grain to roughen the incredible smoothness of the digital image.

I can see how the fetish harkens back to earlier resolutions. Although I was not much of a gamer, I did do some elementary programming on the Atari and Apple II in the early 1980s and those computers had screens with low resolutions and low color yields or even, for the Apple, monochrome yields. So I admit to the nostalgia.

And although I may not understand it very much, nostalgia has often been a driving force in art and design.