Information Design (Anglais) Broché – 11 octobre 2000
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With the benefit of a decade-plus hindsight, I can honestly say I was pleased with the effort that went into Information Design but disappointed in the outcome. The book is good for what it set out to do, benefitting from the ardent enthusiasm of its contributors, each telling his or her story about the meaning of "information design" and its significance in his or her life. The negative reviewers who wrote that the book isn't a how-to are absolutely right. The field is still evolving: are there now innumerable variations on information design as a practice, and within each contending schools as to how to practice it right. Taking sides is a no-win proposition.
Still, I wish I had taken a stronger hand with the authors (who were paid nothing for their contributions). When one key author threatened to bow out, I thought, I'd better give these people more slack lest they all split and we never get to know what they have to say, not gathered together in one volume. So...it is a cornucopia, not a flatline exposition.
That being said, the contributors did a good job interpreting my charge to them, each coming up with a unique but personally defensible characterization of information design. Taken together, they are an epistemological kaleidoscope. Every reader with whom I've spoken has his or her favorite chapter, and conversely , least-favorite chapter. That no two pairs are the same speaks to the variety inherent to information design.
Excuses needn't be made for this book in terms of its universality or timeliness. Individual case studies may become obsolescent, but not the issues they illustrate. Quite the contrary: the issues involved are controversial and live on, because fundamentally they are in the moment, irresolvable as absolutes. Information design intends to serve a purpose. It either serves that purpose or it doesn't. That's as much theory as the field realistically needs to generate, design critics notwithstanding.
MIT Press' unwillingness to spend a dime on this book's production, other than its dust-jacket by a little-known information designer (whom all agree was a genius) was the publisher's failing, and almost fatal. One of the authors, Judy Anderson, an award-winning book designers, offered to redesign the book's interior presentation, at no cost; MIT Press declined her offer. Readers and reviewers (the editor included) are right: MIT Press dropped the ball. The graphical treatment did not live up to the quality of the text. MIT Press paid for this hubris in terms in lost earnings. Information Design could have done even better than it did, which was grand. The excellent visual quality of MIT Press' new books show it's learned its lesson.
For those who have a hankering to learn more about information design, visit Dutch designer Peter J. Bogaard's comprehensive blog on the subject -- now in its 19th year -- "InfoDesign: Understanding by Design," at [...] It remains the go-to source in the field.
-- Bob Jacobson
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