Information Design Watch

October 15, 2011, 4:54 pm

The Life of &

By Henry Woodbury

The ampersand’s job is to let type designers cut loose. It’s supposed to stand out, you see.

Jacob Gube offers a splendid appreciation of this splendid character covering history, styling, encoding, and what not to do:

Jacob Gube's Visual Guide to the Ampersand, Excerpt

(Apologies to our Facebook fans, who are getting this twice.)

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Infographics, Information Design, Language, Typography, Visual Explanation

October 14, 2011, 3:52 pm

Goodbye to the King of the Invisible

By Henry Woodbury

Dennis Ritchie has died. Ritchie was the Bell Labs Researcher who invented the C programmer language and teamed with colleague Ken Thompson to build Unix. Fellow Bell Labs alumnus Rob Pike described his contribution this way:

“Pretty much everything on the web uses those two things: C and UNIX. The browsers are written in C. The UNIX kernel — that pretty much the entire Internet runs on — is written in C. Web servers are written in C, and if they’re not, they’re written in Java or C++, which are C derivatives, or Python or Ruby, which are implemented in C. And all of the network hardware running these programs I can almost guarantee were written in C.”

Contrasting Ritchie’s passing with that of the iconic Steve Jobs, MIT’s Martin Rinard says:

“Jobs was the king of the visible, and Ritchie is the king of what is largely invisible…. Ritchie built things that technologists were able to use to build core infrastructure that people don’t necessarily see much anymore, but they use everyday.”

Things like the underlying OS of the MacBook Pro I’m using to write this.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Current Events, Technology

October 6, 2011, 10:48 am

HeadsUP! Competition Invites Designers to Visualize Global Issues on a Large Scale

By Lisa Agustin

How do we make complex and urgent issues like global warming both understandable and memorable? HeadsUP! is an international competition that challenges designers to visualize critical global issues and create a shared sign for the public space– in this case, Times Square², the Thomson-Reuters/NASDAQ digital signboards in Times Square. The goal of HeadsUP!:

Working with global data on issues such as global groundwater levels, climate change and ocean acidification, designers will create a series of visual displays to translate abstract metrics into recognizable and actionable news. It is an opportunity to transform planetary data into a common sign combining the metaphorical power of the Doomsday Clock with the authority of data visualization and the immediacy of activist electronic billboards: a HeadsUP! Display for the planet.

The first challenge is a visualization of global groundwater trends, which indicate that groundwater reserves are currently threatened due to overuse. The winning entry will premiere on World Water Day, March 22, 2012, and run for one month. I do love this idea, although to me, the success of it will not only depend on making the data easier to understand, but giving passersby concrete steps they can take to make a difference.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Technology, Visual Explanation