Form

In this world of polarized information, one’s opinions are either right or wrong. But, we live in a multi-faceted world of many views. I tend to see the world like a drawing to communicate form.

Unlike a black and white world where it is easy to hide information and distort a form, an artist knows that there is highlight, form shadow, core shadow, reflected light, and cast shadow. There are even more aspects like occlusal shadows, umbras, etc…

So understanding a true form requires several values to visually communicate. The more values, the stronger the form is communicated. And, the more complex the form, the more values we have to understand.

When we truly seek to understand any issue, like immigration or abortion (note: pick any social issue today), we have to see all the subtleties of the issue(s) and all the points of view to see the whole issue. Nothing is black and white. The world does not work that way and we have to truly see the issue like we truly see a form–many values together create the whole.

Any time you need to truly understand our world and all its issues, remember that we need to look at a cube. The cube has many values for us to visually understand it. All issues have many viewpoints to truly understand it. If you want the truth, don’t be afraid to see the highlights and all its shadows.

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Summation

For information to occur, 2 or more things need to happen. Similarly, for an experience to be successful, we need a continuous neural stimulation or summation. This only happens when 2 or more neural connections fire over time to create potential action.

In my opinion, an experience can only happen from a continuous summation of stimuli. Otherwise, just one neural stimulus will quickly degrade over time. But, a continuous flow of stimuli (a mathematical summation) will eventually hit a threshold wherein an experience becomes special.

Advertising understands this principle (probably not to a molecular level). With a calculated bombardment of a message, we can start to create an experience—good or bad.

Design, being a vehicle to convey such messages, can really take advantage of summation. By skillfully including components that can induce continuous neural stimulation—creating summation—we can do more than convey messages, but ultimately, create change.

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Information

When we really try to comprehend and understand the world around us, we are bombarded by information. In order for designers to truly communicate a message, we have to process and interpret all this information to a specific targeted audience. So we truly have to understand the nature of information–what is it?

Information is made up of at least 2 entities (real or imagined) such that the difference between them is immanent… and that difference must be interpreted inside an information-processing entity.

Each entity alone cannot exist without a context. It is a non-entity, such as the sound of one hand clapping. The stuff of sensory sensation, then, is at least a pair of entities that the human brain can compare it with. Thus the difference between the two is information that can be processed and communicated.

For example, in simplest form, night cannot exist without day; off cannot exist without on… etc. And, the difference is information that can be communicated.

Designers cannot introduce new concepts to a target audience that has no concept of where to categorize this information.

Just another thing to think about.

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Similarities

We often think of newness as something that is created from nowhere–ex nihilo. When we hear about what’s the next biggest trend or product or service, we are led to believe it has to be something never thought up before and we are sadly disappointed that the newness of things is not that big of a deal. We have to understand that when thinking of new ideas, products, or services, instead of looking for differences, try looking at similarities.

Its the similarities that create the relationship that works for us as humans and consumers of new products or services. Designers use the term design semantics. An object has to say something about itself; say something about its larger context; and about the user who interacts with it.

Design semantics is communication through displays of information; graphic elements; shape and texture; and indications of internal state (e.g. battery life left, etc…). In short, a design has to convey what it does. For example, a car has to look like it functions as a car. With typography, the letters have to be readable as letters.

As designers, we have to operate under the premise that people are stupid and consider that when designing each aspect of your work. Don’t make people think too hard. If it takes more energy to interpret your design, then your user will go elsewhere.

Similarities lead to better design semantics and a better experience.

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Language

Design first and foremost is communication. It’s a language that is easy to learn but infinitely difficult in its execution (Note: just ask anyone who has taken my design courses at UCLAx). As a form of communication it differs immensely from our spoken language. Not only from its obvious use of the senses engaged, but also in its inherent structure.

Vocal languages commonly only stress one side of an interaction. For example, “A stone is hard” describes its properties. It doesn’t convey anything more than a simple one-sided tidbit of information. The structure is very simple–remember your grammar and you’ll understand.

Design is all about a visual language that describes not only a component’s properties but how other things interact with each component in the composition. Each component itself conveys its own set of properties as well as its visual relation to other things around it–the composition also conveys another level of meaning. If done with careful consideration for Composition, Components, and Concept, the visual language of design can communicate and spur more levels of communication long after its initial contact by the viewer. Design can speak to the soul.

So, when you see anything created by humanity, listen to what it conveys. You’d be surprised with the conversation.

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