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Summing it all up!

Discuss how communication design should move forward. How should our profession change as we respond to technologies and changes in communication?
Communication design is a discipline that prides itself on the fluidity and responsiveness of its practice to changing needs and wants. To be an effective designer that communicates with the audience, we need to be able to first understand the psyche of the person on the receiving end. Therefore, it is without a doubt that the profession will evolve over time as people’s expectations shift and change with the advent of technology and the way that they communicate and the ways they would like to be reached. It is only when the communication designer is able to peer into what motivates the end user, that an experience may be built such that a memorable escapade in the thrills of design may be had (and perhaps gain some ground in terms of social good or profits, too).

In future, we will see many cultural and language barriers which will be broken due to globalisation. People are now able to hold conference calls while based in different parts of the world. This is a trend that will impact communication design, because cultural sensitivities and language accommodation will have to occur right at the planning phase of the design. The profession needs to be able to adapt to creating designs that will communicate with various stakeholders in various parts of the world, drawing on the common reservoir of human experience to generate response and acceptance.

Differing views might see their time on air because of the availability of channels for them to be heard. This may potentially create a catalyst or a backlash effect in terms of communicating through design, should there be a strong enough influencer who pushes any particular agenda. Communication design needs to be able to cater to this change in the landscape, as its aims to stimulate and hold a conversation through the use of design becomes increasingly universal and accessible to any consumer who might wish to view it. This means that communication designers will have to go beyond being simply designers wanting to tell a story, to being practitioners who are able to decipher the wishes of their audience, anticipate the reactions from their stakeholders, and be able to tailor their communications to ensure their goals are met in a sensitive yet engaging way.

Furthermore, as technology advances, practitioners such as ourselves have to progress along-side it. Print designers have to learn a new skill-set just to catch up with the Internet (HTML5, CSS, Java, Ajax – all the acronyms you can think of!) while such skills were not required ten, twenty years ago. With all things related to technology, it can scale both good and bad. The end-result is the possibility that new designers become jack of all trades, but master of none. Is that necessarily a bad thing in today’s design landscape? It might not be. There are also changes in the technological footprint in the digital age, and as communication designers, we must always strive to reduce the friction for the end-user. That is our job, afterall.

Discuss and analyse your experience in sharing this online space and co-creating with your group. Was it positive or negative? Why so? What was it like sharing and being public? Tie it all back to our topics.

Overall, the experience has been pretty positive. This online space that the group shares really makes it easier in sharing content that we find interesting like websites that are related to our discussion or videos that will help to emphasize our point better. A blog is also easier to maintain because of how connected we all are. It is so convenient to put down our daily discussions, findings and others into this online space and sharing it with the other groups.

There wasn’t any issues about being too open and sharing because afterall blogs are optimized content and reading other people’s opionions and views just helps us to see things from a different angle or understand how they felt on that certain issue. We may or may not agree on the same view but it is still interesting to see how other groups discussion or content were like. It was fun to see their postcards that they did. Some of them were really interesting and brilliant!

This blog is a good example of us putting technology to good use to expand and taking our classroom discussions to another platform of communication. 😀 The negative part of sharing our findings in a blog is the delegation of tasks, and the waiting time required before other members can edit the posts if the scribe fails to put the post up in a timely fashion (not a jibe at anyone, of course! A common problem, is all :)).

Mr. Apple: A Tale of Self-Esteem

500px

Explore the social environments and on your blog report on the following:

What kind of social sharing does the environment encourage? 

500 px is a modern online community of photographers from all over the world, initially started in 2004 as a Livejournal community and eventually moving out to its own domain name and engineering infrastructure.

At the forefront, the purpose of the site is the sharing of photographs, with the ability to like or dislike shared photos and thus rendering a rating point for each individual photo. Comments are also encouraged on the uploads, fostering a community within the user base. The higher the rating point, the better the photograph and the more chance it will be seen by the general public as there is a ‘Highest rated’ category. The popularity engine has been praised for its ability to pick out new photographs for its popular category, thus not making the site stagnate from older photographs.

There is an Editors’ Choice (a chance for a photograph to be featured on the front page) that is handpicked, which is to ensure that the choice of the photograph is a good one and not just algorithm numbers crunching and all that. This helps the photographers reach a larger audience for both visitors and users of the site.

There is an activity wall when the user logs in, to show what updates have been made from the last login. This real-time update enables users to see quickly what content is new and what can be liked/disliked or commented upon.

The site also offers the option for the user to host a photoblog, without the need for an external host, as well as the option to sell the prints, as long as the user turns on the store option in the settings.

How successful is the social sharing site? Explain why it is successful

With the downfall of Flickr after it was bought by Yahoo!, such as outdated user experience web design, it has encouraged a lot of Flickr’s user base to migrate to 500px. Support within the user base, such as interactions on Twitter, have praised 500px for its openness in sharing and quick in its support, as well as the quality of work shown on the site.

 

 

In terms of statistics…

  • 28 million page views per month
  • 3.5 million visits per month
  • 1.6 million absolute unique visitors
  • 500% traffic growth over last 6 months

What kind of users does the site have? 

The site attracts mainly tech-savvy audience (over 90% use IE alternatives), who enjoy being part of a community as seen from the comments under each submitted photograph. They are also social media users, as seen from the Twitter and Facebook share buttons available for sharing on these sites whenever the user uploads a photo.

500px’s users range from the hobbyists to the professionals, basing on the camera models used. The most popular camera is the Canon 5D Mark II, so we assume that the semi-professionals and professionals take up a bulk of the userbase.

These users also found incentive to remain on the site (an average time of 4:45 minutes, compared to the web average of 33 seconds a page) so they also found value in the service the site offers.

How does the social site survive? Is it monetized? If not how does it keep operationg?

There are a few main ways the site is being funded:

  1. Users have the option to upgrade to an ‘Awesome Account’, for $50/year, with the ability to have unlimited uploads and collections, pointing the 500px portfolio to a custom domain, exclusive designs, integrating Google Analytics and other perks.
  2. Initially, 500px is fully self-funded. After two years, the start-up announced a $525k investment from venture capitalists (High Line Venture Capital, Deep Creek Capital, ff Venture Capital). “Our investments strategy is to take money from customers, because they don’t expect it back.”
  3. With the amount of traffic on the site, 500px is able to also offer advertising opportunities.

iReport

Why is it interesting? Content? Point of view? Social context?

iReport is basically a site set up by CNN so individuals can post articles on them that they feel strongly for. Basically, everything is submitted by the audience and; as CNN claims, are not edited fact-checked or screened before they are posted. With that, the audience are also encouraged to talk part in discussions online regarding topics they feel towards, and the most compelling/urgent ones will be added to CNN’s main coverage. This is to raise an eye on issues they might have overlooked or missed out.

After reading a couple of the articles, we have observed that most of the articles offer a very personal insight to each of the issues they touched on, and that the style of writing reaches out to you in a way that mainstream news articles or even newspapers do not; taking for example, the group of activists who traveled around Botswana educating their people on the dangers of HIV and the risks involved with having multiple partners, breaking their conservative tone of not talking about it at all when in fact it is vital.

Another post that we found interesting was of a video of a martyr’s singing in relation to the unrest in Cairo, Egypt. We can almost be certain that this would not be posted on any news site or paper, as it promotes the audience to feel more towards a certain party and thus prompting bias. And in this, we see that the site serves as a voice for these people; and to raise a public eye on them to really question what is wrong within Cairo instead of hearing it from the news that they are simply “rioting” and, as we would so normally do, write them off as just being pesky and riotous.

With the above-mentioned examples, we also thought that these forms of journalism brings the audience closer to the news on ground, without fear of censorship. The reports, as they’re coming from individuals also takes away the notion that whatever’s written on newspapers or news sites has gone through vetting and that some parts might have been missed out in order to have an unbiased perception of things (or, in the case of certain newspapers and news channels, to have a biased view on things!).

On a local comparison, our group thought of an albeit ‘weaker’ relevance to iReport with Singapore’s very own STOMP site as they both encourage the audience to post and bring up matters they feel towards. Unfortunately, we see STOMP as merely a lucrative site more than anything as their draw is by feeding off the typical Singaporean “kaypo-ness” (wanting to know more about something which, more often than not, is mere gossip or trivial matters), aiming to expose the ugliness and uncanny quirks of Singaporeans, instead of touching on more relevant and “important” things that iReport has.

What is the usefulness of this site? Does it change the political/social landscape?
The usefulness of iReport is undeniable, as the authenticity of the reports would affect the mindsets of people reading them; opening the world up through the audiences eyes. Stories which have been touched on in mainstream news are offered a second point of view by these journalists on the ground, letting the viewers to judge and decide for issues that concern them.

A downside to this form of citizen journalism would be the social impacts it would have if inaccurate news is being posted, as it is after-all an user generated content. A sense of credibility has to come from the general accuracy of posters and reports on the site. An example of a post that seriously challenged the credibility of iReport would be the fraudulent claim in 2008 that Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER after suffering from a heart attack. This post caused a huge furor on social networks such as Twitter and even took a toll on Apple’s stock-pricing. It eventually bounced back after claims from the Apple board that that was untrue, though the damage had already been done. The interesting thing about this case was social media being so self-contained that every “legitimate” source all linked by to this particular iReport piece.

Postcards!

Through my eyes, not Hipstamatic’s

Through my eyes, not Hipstamatic’s:

Any discussion about the validity of these images comes down to two basic fundamentals: aesthetics and content.

At the heart of all these photos is a moment or a detail or an expression that tells the story of these soldiers’ day-to-day lives while on a combat mission. Nothing can change that. No content has been added, taken away, obscured or altered. These are remarkably straightforward and simple images.

In the National Press Photographers Associate’s code of ethics, there are a few rules, the more relevant ones to this situation being: ‘Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects’ and ‘Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context’. What Damon Winter has done with the iPhone app has caused outrage in the photojournalism field, but there are also supporters of his reasons and the photos he’d taken with the app.

In essence, a photograph tells a story. On the flip side, most – if not all – humans are influenced by outside factors with regards to our perception. Changes in lighting also alters the mood of the photograph, the cropping out (or lack thereof) of elements in the photographs significantly changes the story as a whole. Winter’s defense is that the iPhone provided a quick, slice-of-life take on life in the war field, that no editing has been done post-production and that can’t be contested, as the Hipstamatic app is pretty much a WYSIWYG app – it doesn’t add on the color and border effects after the photo is taken; rather you can see what it looks like while snapping it – it is no different than using an actual Holga. Greyscale photos are even dragged in the debate, with the fact that black and white changes the perception of the photographs as well.

The #1 rule of photojournalism is the truthfulness of the photograph, however, and even with using a handy, simple, no-fuss iPhone app to produce those photos in their natural settings with no posturing or stage awkwardness, Damon Winter’s photos definitely passed the test. Sometimes the content is more important that the aesthetics of it. Of course, that is a loaded statement, but as moments are fleeting, it would not be practical to use the “correct” (note the quotation marks, of course!) equipment if by the time you gather them up, the moment is lost forever.

Why Instagram is so popular: Quality, Audience & Constrains

Why Instagram is so popular: Quality, Audience & Constrains

More weight and significance is placed on each image, just because you have to consider it, at least for a split second, in your feed. Instagram forces you to focus.

Photography

1. How does photography extend the body? Give an example.

Photography extends us by being able to capture a moment of an image of our memory. An example would be a mother taking a picture of her baby and looking at it again many year’s down the road and reliving those memories.

2. What Effects did this “extension” have on us as humans and our society?

This extension has caused us to be able to tell stories from such imagery, and in a way this sharing brings societies closer together; allowing people to be able to see images which would otherwise not be possible unless they are physically present at that moment of time.

3. How does photography elevate the ordinary to the extra-ordinary? Give an example.

It elevates the ordinary to the extra-ordinary as a picture can have multiple stories to tell, but when taken with a different lightning or angle it re-focuses the entire story and mood behind it. An example would perhaps be a normal portrait photo of an individual, of how when taken in a black and white manner would instantly reflect a classic feel to it; whereas a colored and polished turn-out would instantly reflect a modern and more detailed look into the whole picture.

4. Explore and describe the relationship of modernity and the technology of photography.

Photography, as modernity and technology is ever-changing, is becoming less and less appreciated. In the past photography methods were very limited, stemming from the very first idea of a ‘camera obscure’ which spawned the pin-hole camera. In those days it was very much a fascination as people had no idea that such a technology existed. With modernity, it has moved into a more widespread hobby, as skills and traits which were needed with reference to olden technology such as knowing the amount of time to manually expose the picture and process the imagery. And with technology, the amount of skill needed as compared to olden photography ways are slowly being forgotten and taken for granted.

5. Explore the idea that photography is at the intersection of art and technology.

The camera is a tool for art, pushing the button is technology. Taking a photograph is an art because you have to compose your scene. Controlling the other aspects like aperture and shutter speed is also technology, and with a combination of both a photo is worked out.

6. What did they mean by “the empire of photography was turned into a republic”.

We think that it suggests the idea that with technology it has become so accessible and easy for everyone to be a photographer that it has turned into a seeming “republic” as compared to the olden days when photographs and camera’s were considered very special and revered gadget, thus being a very individualistic “empire”.

Technological Determinism

Has communication design been “determined” by technology?

Our answer skews towards ‘yes’, though there is an argument for ‘no’ as well. As it stands, design is intricately linked with technology. From fonts, to printing, to the personal computer, the number of applications we use to create our works (some days we love Adobe) – you name it, we’ll need to use it to create.

Physical products are also bound and determined by what we can do with technology. We may find ourselves restricted – for instance, we don’t really have a viable and cost-effective, non-clunky way to show moving images in printed materials at the moment, so that stream of advertising ideas will have to shelved for a later date1. Yet, our creativity definitely isn’t determined by technology. In fact, it could be the other way around as well. Twenty years ago, who would have thought that you could do so much with your phone? Because someone had an idea and worked towards making it true, in a way, technological determinism worked inversely to great effect in the end.

How much has communication design been “determined” by technology? Give examples.

Technological determinism in communication design extends beyond the obvious – while technology has given us tools to create designs that may not have been possible in the past, it does not replace the thought processes that go into the creation of these works.

This is where technological determinism rears its head in the most significant of ways – it can be argued that we have altered our traditional ways of thinking about design, the process of creating designs, and actually making designs because of technology. Due to technology, we have built new processes and work flows around it. Instead of brainstorming on paper and from books, we do so by running a search; instead of using materials creatively, we simply edit them on software; instead of presenting our works personally, we send them electronically; instead of building design to fit traditional media, we now build them with the aim of fitting them on the web. The entire experience of producing and communicating designs has shifted drastically because of the emergence of technology, and this has therefore determined the meaning of communication design as well.

As aforementioned, everything we use to create and communicate has been determined by the technology available to us. For instance, we won’t even have this blog if not for a wave of weblogs in the early 2000s getting more mainstream. Going further, we won’t even have this keyboard to type on, and would have to rely on writing, in itself a technology on its own.

1 Though it’s certainly been tried.

Bodoni: The History of Being Awesome

The History Of Bodoni

The Bodoni font was named after its designer, Giamattista Bodoni (1740-1813) who was often revered as the King of Printers.

It is a series of serif typefaces following the ideas of John Baskerville, as found in the printing type Baskerville. It was of increased stroke contrast and a more vertical, slightly condensed, upper case but taking them to a more extreme conclusion. Some characteristics of Bodoni include the square dot over the letter “i”, and a double storey “a”. The capital “Q’s” tail is centered under the figure, and the uppercase “J” has a slight hook. Also, there are two versions of the uppercase “R”, one with a straight tail and one with a curved tail.

Generally, the main identifying characteristic of the typeface is it’s an easily recognizable Romantic typeface with a vertical stress and slight serif bracketing. Being considered one of the first modern typefaces, it is widely used for displays, posters, headlines and logos; especially in the fashion scene.

Bodoni was also part of the modern 18th century fashion that grew for faces with a stronger contrast between the thick and thins, unbracketed serifs, and strong vertical stress, whereas all the older type faces became to be known as old style. Giamattista Bodoni characterized the font by its simplicity and rejected old-style letters by introducing clear and simple type.

Comparision between Bodoni, Baskerville and Didot

When Bodoni was invented, the inventor took inspiration from Baskerville and Didot. Below are the comparisons between these fonts.

Bodoni VS Didot

Bodoni VS Baskerville

 

 

Brands That Use Bodoni

Bodoni is a popular choice among fashion labels.

Besides being the logotype for high-end fashion labels, Bodoni is also used in fashion magazine spreads, magazine covers and posters, due to its pleasant aesthetics when set in bigger sizes.

Evolution, current use, and tracing the technology and communication of Bodoni

Bodoni marked the end of calligraphy and ushered in a new era of industrialized printing methods with modern fonts, with Giambattista Bodoni credited as the “inventor” of modern roman typefaces.

Bodoni was widely used, being the font of choice from 18th century Italian books to 1960s periodicals. Bodoni has been used for a wide variety of material, ranging from 18th century Italian books to 1960s periodicals. In the 21st century, the late manner versions continue to be used in advertising, while the early manner versions are occasionally used for fine book printing. However, this typeface is generally not suited for setting big bodies of text, as the verticality of the letter forms interferes with the text’s horizontal rhythm (we read left to right, but Bodoni leads our eyes up and down instead).

(current use of Bodoni) 

Perhaps the indicator of success would be the fact that during the age of metal type and the years forward, every serious foundry has its own adaptation of Bodoni. Today, there is a wide range of adaptations, each with its own distinctive flavor.

Bauer Bodoni

FF Bodoni

ITC Bodoni

The early adaptations are occasionally used for fine printing, while other variants of the font continue to be used in advertising, posters, magazine covers etc.

Tracing technology and communication through the history of this typeface

The Bodoni romans and italics have been extensively copied and have become an essential part of today’s typographic equipment, setting the stage in marking the end of calligraphy and the start of refined, cultured and structured printing. Indeed, Giambattista Bodoni meant for his typefaces to be seen as well as read, and his efforts were meant to be looked upon and appreciated as works of art rather than simply communication.

Now, however, given the technology available to us digitally in this age, Bodoni is not easy to use (in the context of pixels, e-books, e-readers and so on) because of its extreme contrast in stroke weight and airline serifs (i.e. when scaled down, the already-thin hairlines become even thinner). This particular legibility degradation is known as “dazzle”, caused by the alternating thick and thin strokes of the type.

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