November 9, 2004
ETS to measure tech literacy
Today's issue of Edupage has an blurb about a new standardized test to measure technical literacy. Literacy tests aren't new, but this one is particuarly interesting because it is from the folks who do the SAT. Here's the blurb:
Working with representatives of seven universities, the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the SAT, has developed a new test to measure how well students apply information technology skills to solve problems. Students taking the ICT Literacy Assessment exam will be asked to perform tasks such as build a spreadsheet, write an e-mail that summarizes a passage, and evaluate the credibility of online information. ... The test will be given starting in January 2005, and for the first year, results will be provided in the aggregate only. After ETS has developed a baseline for scoring, test takers will receive individual scores.
July 2, 2004
Academic publishing web-style
Here are some links related to the publishing of research and other academic works that I've culled off some lists recently:
October 25, 2003
Practices in web design
The site has been developed by Heidi Adkisson (an "interactive architect" ... oy!) in order to make her masters thesis (an MS in Technical Communication...yes!) more accessible. In it, she reveals the results of surveying 75 leading e-commerce sites...how they handled web design essentials such as global navigation, breadcrumbs, search, and link colors. As she notes, common practice doesn't equal best practice, but knowing what is common can help inform your own design decisions.
Heidi has recently launched a new weblog, called IA THINK, which looks at "Interactive architecture, writing, and design." One of her recent entries is about Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm which I'm reading for class (after having read The Tipping Point just for fun...my masters thesis used diffusion of innovation theory as its framework). Looks like another feed to add to the aggregator!
August 17, 2003
Conrad on literacy
Conrad Taylor has made available what looks to be an interesting read on "new" kinds of literacy: visual, media, and information. He wrote this as the backdrop for a forthcoming workshop in London called "Explanatory & Instructional Graphics and Visual Information Literacy." His 22-page paper, "New kinds of literacy, and the world of visual information" (PDF; 400K),
explains the history of these terms and asks whether these metaphorical extensions of ‘literacy’ are just a rhetorical device to inflate the importance of these fields of study, or if there really are literacy-like aspects to them. He concludes that there is at least a case for the concept of Visual Literacy when it applies to information graphics: we could call this Visual Information Literacy.
As an aside, I sure wish that more proceedings papers were as nicely designed as this one!
August 3, 2003
The emergence of New Media has stimulated debate about the power of the visual to dethrone the cultural prominence of textuality and print. Some scholars celebrate the proliferation of digital images, arguing that it suggests a return to a pictorial age when knowledge was communicated through images as well as through words. Others argue that the inherent conflict between texts and images creates a battleground between the feminized, seductive power of images and the masculine rationality of the printed word. Eloquent Images suggests that these debates misunderstand the dynamic interplay that has always existed between word and image.
Thanks to MGK for the pointer.
July 29, 2003
Educating the Citizen Designer
Local bud Thom Haller emailed me this one from the most recent issue of Metropolis: Educating the Citizen Designer, the mag's Aug/Sep editorial. In this curious parallel universe, Editor In Chief Susan S. Szenasy writes:
If interior designers and architects continue to engage in their ongoing turf war, the rest of the world will pass them by. This thought was voiced, often and in many ways, at a discussion on a recent Sunday. We were a small group of interior design and architecture educators, plus one editor, called to the University of Cincinnati by Hank Hildebrandt, associate director for undergraduate studies in architecture and interior design at the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). Hank asked us to discuss the often heated relationship between the two professions, what this legacy of conflict is passing on to our future space/place makers and form-givers, and where the possible escape routes from this quagmire might be located. He prodded us with questions like: What is it that interior designers do better than architects? Should the next generation learn to be interior architects rather than interior designers? Are interior designers trying to grab architecture's sex appeal, just as "information architects" are doing?
While such queries proliferated throughout that day, one throwaway comment captured it all for me. Someone mentioned that among the interior design and architecture firms bidding for a recent corporate job, there was an unexpected entrant, a major accounting firm. The accountants sold themselves on the merits of their financial analysis, plus their ability to put teams together, and sure, they would hire interior designers and architects. Did the world just pass by the design professions, again, in favor of more easily understood skills? The accountants seem to be winning.
If you skimmed, be sure to re-read the end of that first paragraph...ouch! She closed the editorial with a familiar refrain:
What if fledgling designers of every discipline were given more time in school and given the same solid foundation of humanities and sciences, in addition to an understanding of structure, materials, ergonomics, space, and technology? Armed with these fundamentals, students could choose to be technicians, colorists, decorators, interior designers, architects, product or communications designers, or even invent their own focus, each and every one an essential contributor to a complex society. Why quibble over titles when there's so much to learn and so much to do?
I don't know. Where have I heard this before? Still not sure I'm buying it.
July 9, 2003
Ken Friedman on design
The folks at the NextDesign Leadership Institute have publically announced their new journal, which "has been created to explore how the concept of design leadership is being rethought and reinvented as a response to the massive changes underway in the marketplace."
An article of interest, especially given the recent discussion here about the term design, is an interview with Ken Friedman (a research/academic who is quite active on the PhD-Design list) on design research. For this audience, issues with design are at a different level than semantics, and focus more on philosophy, theory, and application of research to practice (a biggie in many fields).
It's a good read, though a bit wordy (as interviews handled by email can easily be). In particular, I found this bit at the end interesting:
As a professional field, design faces ten major challenges today. There are three performance challenges, four substantive challenges, and three contextual challenges. The performance challenges of design are to:
Maybe it is just wishful thinking, but there sure seems to be room for some level of collaboration and compromise between those that would do design and those that would do user experience.
Or perhaps this will be like the seemingly unsolvable problem in the RSS space...and really is about the name?
June 5, 2003
How Designers Work
I haven't had a chance to check this out, what with travel and training recently, but it seems worth passing along! It is Henryk Gedenryd's doctoral dissertation How Designers Work.
Ken Friedman, who alerted folks on the PhD-Design list, had this to say:
As mentioned in earlier notes, this dissertation is interesting and worth reading. The bibliography is especially helpful to those who are exploring the area of design practice and the situated thinking that designers use as they design.
If you're into design dissertations, you may also like this resource that Ken shared with the list: doctoral dissertations from the Center for Design Research at Stanford University.
January 30, 2003
Master of Design Methods
Here's something that's showed up on a few lists today. It's a new program from the Illinois Institute of Technology:
The Master of Design Methods (MDM) is a professional Master's degree for exceptional design professionals who seek to add to their competency a deeper knowledge of methods and frameworks. It concentrates on the design theories and methods developed and taught at the Institute of Design, in areas like user observation and research, prototyping, interaction design, visualization and strategic design planning.
January 27, 2003
The graded weblog
I've been meaning to think about and perhaps write about life cycles and weblogs, particularly technical or professional ones. If you've been weblog surfing for a while, you've probably noticed that weblogs come and go. Some of them just barely get started and the author loses motivation or time, and they lay dormant with their one or two initial entries.
Others are authored by those who are both inspired and a bit "hungry." These are the folks who are sometimes able to use their weblog to build a solid enough reputation (and readership) that their workload increases with more consulting gigs, conference tours, and even book publishing. At some point in time, they may be so successful that one of two things happens. Their new project sucks up so much time that their weblog languishes, leaving visitors to either check back every so often to see if it comes back or to check out F*cked Weblog to see if it is gone for good. Or, like peterme, you tire of the same old same old, and "mothball" your weblog.
You may, like Peter, warn folks that your revival is who knows when. Or you may, like moi, tell folks the new improved version will be back in January and then finally re-launch in September :(.
I went thru this a bit recently myself after having only been back to full-time weblogging for a few months. But then I had a bit of an aha moment and realized that this was just too much of a great opportunity for me to just journal the things that I found interesting or curious or wanted to save. So, while I will keep checking out my webstats to see if anyone is showing up :), I will no longer set any huge expectations for myself to be the next Doc Searls. And I will try and avoid going offline for 2/3 of a year in the event that I decide to redesign the whole thing!
I will, however, get a nice perk out of doing IDblog for the next few months. One of the courses I'm taking this spring for the University of Baltimore's doctorate of communication design program is Digital Economy. This course looks at "economic and social issues relating to communications design in an age of digital networks." (Ah, takes me back to the MA I did at Georgetown.) As a program that originated out of print publishing, the DCD profs are still finding it useful/necessaryy to get folks exposed to Internet technologies, so...10% of our grade is publishing twice a week to a weblog! Methinks I've got this part covered :).
January 23, 2003
New MA in information design
The University of Reading has announced a new MA in Information Design course (as they say across the pond). This is an excellent opportunity for any would-be student of information design; the program's director, Paul Stiff, is a true luminary in the field, having been the editor of the Information Design Journal for a decade.
If the UK doesn't suit your geography, you may want to consider other programs in information design, a list that I compiled for the STC ID SIG.
January 21, 2003
STC's 50th Annual Conference
The conference will be May 18-21, in Dallas, Texas. More as we get closer!
November 26, 2002
Sean's comment (on Monday...can't link to the entry itself) about the high cost of entry to AIGA got me to 1) comment and then 2) update the following list, which was originally posted to the old IDblog a year or so ago.
This new version adds in AIfIA and updates each listing with the association's student membership rate and policy.
October 15, 2002
Educational progams in ID
I've gone ahead and posted a resource to the ID SIG website listing educational programs in information design. While the majority of the programs aren't labeled information design, I included them because they offered something other than a more traditional program in technical communication or graphic design. They also didn't go so far as to primarily concentrate in a related field like information architecture or HCI.
This listing doesn't imply endorsement, and whether or not a program is listed was purely a subjective judgment. I'm happy to hear about other programs that get what information design is about. I did review the draft list that Karel van der Waarde circulated quite a while back. Some of the links are (of course) no longer working, so I've included those that I could.
I'm still on the lookout for proposals for programs in information design (like this one). Please let me know if you know of one or are working on one!
September 9, 2002
Back to School
It's September, which is back-to-school month, and I am no exception. Perhaps because I am a serious glutton for punishment, I am going back! I finished my MA a year ago August at Georgetown's Communication, Culture, and Technology program (my master's thesis was titled "The Role of Place on Older Adult Interest Towards Computer Classes" ... all lovely diffusion of innovation stuff). But as an info design fan, my fascination with the visual aspect of things is driving me to do more. So, last week, I started my first classes with the University of Baltimore's Doctor of Communications Design program. Now, for all intents and purposes, the DCD is really an MFA. However, given the MFA's fine arts connotations, the UB folks decided to position this degree as a professional degree similar to the MD or JD. All I know is it is 48 more credits and no dissertation! (I'm too old for a dissertation :).
This semester, I'm taking typography and a class called "Imaging Information and Ideas." The former is what you'd expect, and the latter is an interesting look at what happens when you explore semiotics in the visual design space. I hope you are all looking forward to tidbits gleaned from these classes! BTW, UB is also home to a new IA program called the masters in interaction design and information architecture.
There are some great perks to being a student. Big yeah, time to upgrade the software at home at a discount. (Hard to believe, but I still have Photoshop 3 on my Mac at home!).
Other cool perks include being able to join relevant professional societies at a discount. So I'd like to give STC, ACM, and ASIST big kudos for their liberal membership policies. A bit of a raspberry to AIGA and UPA for their more rigid policies (both require full-time status for student memberships).
I know that the groups are starting to work together (e.g., the joint conference with the AIGA Experience Design folks and the SIGCHI folks). But as they've heard before, there really is a paradigm shift. Just as people no longer spend their entire careers at one company until they retire with the gold watch, people are no longer desire to get by with a single professional membership. But not all the associations are getting this. I realize that some of the folks in this profession are well paid, but I'm not sure how many would choose to be members at the current level of dues. I'm probably not alone in suspecting that associations would benefit from having different tiers of membership ... particularly if the only alternative to a $65 full-time student membership was a $275 professional membership (hint hint).
IDblog is Beth Mazur tilting at power law windmills. A little bit Internet, a little bit technology, a little bit society, and a lot about designing useful information products. Send your cards and letters to email@example.com.
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