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Subject: Tufte vs. Carson
From: Joe Clark <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 21 Jul 1997 19:00:50 -0500
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_Feed_ has this long set of interlinked articles which I have laboriously
threaded together here. If you want to waste time futzing with their
Java-enabled frame-heavy site, be my guest.

--

X-URL:
http://www.feedmag.com/html/feature/97.07bennahum/97.07bennahum.html

"...Clarity and excellence in thinking is very much like clarity and
excellence in the display of data. When principles of design replicate
principles of thought, the act of arranging information becomes an act
of insight." Edward R. Tufte, Visual Explanations, p. 9.


This October marks the fourth anniversary of Mosaic 1.0, the catalytic
software that transformed the Internet into a mass-medium. It was
Mosaic, with its appropriation of familiar metaphors like icons and
windows, that turned the arcane land of nested trees, UNIXese and TCP/IP
into a less daunting place. Mosaic was more than a brilliant chunk of
code: it expanded our perception of computers. Mosaic did to cyberspace
what the Macintosh did to the home computer -- made it accessible by
deploying design. Today, digital design occupies the same heady place
rock 'n roll once held. Like rock, which redefined music and created an
entire culture, the web is a contemporary muse of awesome power. It's
about jamming visually, much as kids once thrashed out variations on the
twelve-bar blues in their garages. Except on the web, there is no garage
door, no limit to how many people can join in with you or watch. So it's
not surprising that thousands of people became web designers. In fact,
anytime someone puts up a page, she's a designer. The act of putting a
page together makes her one. There's something exhilarating about the
idea of all these people thinking about how things should look. This, of
course, was one of the web's early promises: it would get people
creating rather than consuming.

It's too early to call this tsunami of design a school or a movement,
but telltale signs are emerging. One is that web sites often manage to
overcome an immense design challenge -- representing hypertextual space,
displaying huge amounts of information comprehensibly, and warming up
the cold reaches of cyberspace -- by borrowing from two traditions
considered irreconcilable in the print world.Whether they know it or
not, many web designers have heeded both the admonitions of Edward
Tufte, the emissary of clean design, and the rebel yell of David Carson,
Ray Gun magazine's erstwhile bad-boy of dirty design. Online, the twain
have met. Off-line, on paper, they're seen as irrevocably opposed:
either you're clean or dirty.

"...Legibility was not really a priority. It just had to be something that,
if you could identify with it, then
you would have the staying power to figure out what the information was.
That's why I say, to some degree, difficulty actually works for you and
not against you." Bruce Mau, in Ray Gun: Out of Control, p. 67.

The apparent contradiction between Tufte and Carson virtually shouts
from the pages of two recent books: Tufte's [7]Visual Explanations and
[8]Ray Gun: Out of Control. Visual Explanations, as its spartan title
suggests, celebrates crystal clear design. It's an extended ode to
reason. At first glance, Visual Explanations couldn't be further from
Out of Control, a book which chronicles, in lavish illustrations, the
rise of Ray Gun, which made "dirty" design part of the mainstream and
came closest to putting television on paper. (In fact, Chris Ashworth
and Neil Fletcher designed Out of Control, which adds a British accent
to Carson's California style.)

While these two books stake out different extremes of the design
spectrum, they also overlap at strange points, where the illegible is
legible, and the legible becomes illegible. They embrace divergent
tactics that often serve the same strategic end -- to illuminate through
design. Within these unexpected convergences another narrative emerges.
Together, these two books are leading towards an understanding of a
medium neither designer has written much about -- the web. Side by side,
Carson and Tufte hint at what works and fails when it comes to designing
in this new medium.



Visual Explanations, p. 60.

When David Carson published the first issue of Ray Gun, in the fall of
1992, the pages of the magazine confounded every rule in the book. Issue
#1 was literally "dirty" -- a scratched-up cover that hinted at a
forgotten bathroom wall. Issue #3 of the alternative music magazine put
Dinosaur Jr. on the cover, with a picture flipped upside down. [INLINE]
It's simple. Pictures are supposed to go right side up -- so, do the
opposite. And text? Cut it up, let it run into pictures, or over into
the next column on the page, last letter hopping over the well to kiss
first letter. In Ray Gun, the static page took on the dynamism of
change, a frame, frozen, retaining the residue of motion. Designers
looked at Ray Gun and came away either hating it or loving it. There was
no tepid middle.

It is motion which binds the televisuals of Ray Gun with the stately
elegance of Edward Tufte's work. But where motion creates emotion in the
hands of David Carson, in Tufte's lexicon, motion animates reason.
Motion is a function of time, and it is time which Tufte tries to
capture on paper. Practically every illustration in Visual Explanations
shows the passage of time. If there is a magazine that epitomizes the
Tufte style of design, it might be The Economist, which adheres to the
Tufte-axiom that "in the architecture of content, the information
becomes the interface."


Where Ray Gun is derided for being self-indulgent, Tufte is chastised
for being boring. "It's just so obvious," one designer told me, after
leafing through Visual Explanations; "I learned all that in school."
Tufte is deceptively simple. The real Tufte goes deeper than that: his
images are brilliant because they subtly use complexity to create
clarity. In the bastardization of Tufte, complexity becomes simplicity,
and instead of clarity, one gets stupidity. (USA Today might be the best
example of what happens to Tufte in the wrong hands.)

This is the key to understanding Tufte's famous redesign of a
thunderstorm moving across a plane and his chart which predicts the
space shuttle Challenger had a good chance of exploding on a cold day.
To beat back needless complexity, Tufte uses lusciously didactic
vitriol: "chartjunk," "computer administrative debris," "spatial
imperialism of operating systems," "priority of apparatus over
information." Special fury goes to television and computers for creating
opaque visual systems. You get a sense of how Tufte may feel about Ray
Gun from a passage in Visual Explanations: "The effect of graphic design
in many publications...is the fragmentation or subordination of the
text... The broken page delivers impressions and even sensations, but it
does not lead the reader into the depth that... crafted writing, and
layered passages can create in quiet sequence." For Tufte, visual design
is part of a universal truth-telling mission. It's a science. And in his
lexicon, emotion is the enemy of reason. Visual explanations that appeal
to the heart, rather than the head, are especially suspect.

"...The scientific principle, make controlled comparisons, also guides
the construction of data displays, prescribing that the ink or pixels of
graphics should be arranged so as to depict comparisons and context.
Display architecture recapitulatees quantitative thinking; design
quality grows from intellectual quality." Edward R. Tufte, Visual
Explanations.

Scott Kinney [7]observes: "In heated discussions with web-site authors
on Usenet, this issue is the crux of site design. Do you have a specific
message or story to tell in your site, or are you leaving that up to the
visitor ? Some web site designers are adamant that their strategy is to
put their pages out there and 'allow' the user to navigate them
willy-nilly and create their own meaning."


Ray Gun is also all about telling truth,but a subjective truth, in a way
which plays on feeling rather than thought. As Dean Kuipers, a founding
editor at Ray Gun, puts it in Out of Control, "Our graphic languages
brought us together only to emphasize that our common purpose is a
sham... These people [who read Ray Gun] aren't looking to join any
'Alternative Nation.' They don't trust us... All they know is that Ray
Gun is a magazine whose social contract shifts the responsibility for
producing or understanding pop media from the many to the One." Ray Gun
comments on mass-media and the smothering effect of pop culture by
making you work hard, on your own, for insight. Illegibility is a
necessary barrier towards resisting global mass-media culture. And
obtusiveness and illegibility can become elegiac in the hands of certain
designers -- tools of inspiration and resistance.


Some designers found in Carson's layouts an extreme disdain for the
audience; "you can't read it" was one common reaction among
traditionalists, seeing nihilism, above all, in Carson's work. But if
imitation is the highest form of flattery, then many designers also
admired Ray Gun's fresh approach, as Carson-inspired plays on legible
illegibility found their way into advertising, stimulating what people
called a "raw" look. This played especially well in markets where
teen-agers weaned on MTV in the early 1980s were now product-buying
young adults -- they had mastered reading legible illegibility a long
time ago.


The kids today, though, are suckled on MTV and the web. Surpisingly,
Carson hasn't paid much formal attention to the web. This is partly
because he loves paper. Like Tufte, Carson is engaged in the expansion
of what paper can do, rather than the exploration of what new, uncharted
media can do. This strikes some Carson fans as odd since the web, for
now, appears as sympathetic territory: it tweaks the nose of big media;
its denizens gleefully make lawyers scramble to register every
permutation of domain names, and fret over "theft of ideas" online, an
attitude which naturally allies the web with the Ray Gun aesthetic.

Meanwhile, Tufte, for all his rules about what makes a good or bad piece
of information design, also says nothing explicit about the web in
Visual Explanations. The few examples of computer-based visual
information he supplies are non-networked. You need a floppy disk or
CD-ROM to use this stuff (and a super-computer to see the animated
thunderstorm). It's as if the Internet -- the most important
information-producing medium of our time -- doesn't exist. It's an
incomprehensible omission, one which is partly explained by Tufte's
disdain of computer monitors. With such poor resolution compared with
paper, they're just not capable of creating the sophisticated charts he
adores. His dislike of monitors and distrust of computers (they can
falsify information and produce data that might be more favorable to a
disingenuous argument) can grate after awhile. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know
this stuff. So, work with it! At his most extreme Tufte can sound like
the Martha Stewart of statistics, as he minutely deconstructs images,
offering recipes for maintaining a clean brain, and clear communication.



If emotion is Ray Gun's way of getting at the truth, and reason is
Tufte's, then it's easy to understand why certain web designers, be they
professional or amateur, might favor one approach over the other. The
Times is a successful electronic piece of Tuftesque design
(www.nytimes.com) because its implicit journalistic mission -- to
uncover the universal truth about events -- fits nicely with Tufte's
ideas of information design. Better still is the [7]Electronic Music
Interactive a site out of the University of Oregon, that is both obvious
at first glance -- the information is the interface -- and subtly
complex upon repeated use.

Sites hunting for truth on an emotional level tend to share aspects that
Tufte might sneer at. [8]The Spleen is purposefully layered, at times
opaque, because it revolves around a question -- What does it mean to be
human? -- that can't be answered using a precise path. Unlike the O-ring
failure on the shuttle, why people behave as they do has an infinite
number of answers, all equally true. Which one is truer for you depends
on how you feel about it, rather than the discovery of proof beyond a
doubt. The truth here is emotional, and the Spleen's design reinforces
emotional subjectivity. The same ethic is at work in [9]Jodi's site,
which cleverly evokes the low-res lexicon of computer viruses, military
radar systems, and UNIX within the bounded frame of a web page. Here,
the information is the interface, but it's presented to induce an
emotional response. My first glance at this site sent me right back to
my first computer, the long nights of hellish command line mastery, and
the bleary-eyed ghosting that formed on the back of my retinas from
staring at a green-and-black screen. Jodi reconstructs the myth of
computing machines, and in doing so, the site reveals another form of
subjective truth -- what it is about computers that alienates and
seduces us.

The divergence between Carson's legacy and Tufte's is not so much a duel
between emotion and reason, irrationality and logic, but rather one of
tactics. Is your goal to tell the truth, or show the way? If you know
the answer to someone's question -- the fact that below 66 degrees
Fahrenheit the O-Rings will weaken, and possibly lead to a shuttle
explosion -- Tufte shows us how to make these answers clear. If your
purpose, however, is just to question, and not to provide the answer,
because there is no single answer to give, then look at David Carson and
Ray Gun. In a world where we can all be web designers, both of these
design philosophies have much to teach us.


--



"How Things Should Look" discussion


Base: [5]Digital Discussion Date: Fri, 11 Jul 1997 21:49:58 GMT From:
[6][log in to unmask] (Sam Lipsyte -- FEED)

This opens the floor to our discussion of David Bennahum's "How Things
Should Look." What do readers think about the "clean" and "dirty"
schools of design, as epitomized by Edward Tufte and David Carson? Will
there be an aesthetic reconcilliation on the web? Or will technology
foster a whole new way of thinking about design? As always, we want to
hear from you.
_____________________________________________________________________

Feedback: [7]Print Guys, Print Debate


Re: None [8]"How Things Should Look" discussion (Sam Lipsyte -- FEED)
Keywords: Typography, Design, Information Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997
00:05:28 GMT From: [9][log in to unmask] (Matthew DeBord)

David Bennahum's way of looking at the issue is interesting, but I would
say that neither Tufte nor Carson is really a designer: Tufte seems
primarily concerned with the interpretation of information, rather than
its delivery, and would thus automatically disqualify any "design" that
didn't meet his strict standards (no fun there, clean or unclean);
Carson is, as Tibor Kalman-- addressing the conflict between "dirty"
design and legibility--has rightly implied, a typographer, in the
vanguard of a type rather than a design revolution. I guess, since Tufte
has a reputation as an information guru and Carson has worked mainly in
advertising and magazines, they make good poles for the argument (the
Web, after all, is commonly discussed in just those terms), but it seems
obvious that successful print strategies, as well as controversial ones,
in many cases translate very poorly to the Web, which is much more about
text than design. Perhaps if the Web _is_ viewed not as an end in
itself, but as a transitional medium, a bridge to something
else--something that takes better advantage of its improvisatory nature
than its current, largely textual incarntion, a different opportunity
for design will arise. For the time being, however, this clean/dirty
duality is best left as a print debate. I, for one, find just about any
sort of design on the Web frustrating, because the technological Gestalt
that graphic design inhabits--that of print--is so much more advanced
than what the Web has so far been able to develop. Suggesting that the
Web can solve this problem is like asking a five-year-old to theorize
gravity: the kid could toss a ball across a room, but all he'd be able
to conclude is that things fall down.
_____________________________________________________________________

None: [10]Telling a story vs. madlibs


Re: Feedback [11]Print Guys, Print Debate (Matthew DeBord) Keywords:
Typography, Design, Information Date: Wed, 16 Jul 1997 17:27:40 GMT
From: [12][log in to unmask] (Scott Kinney)

Tufte's focus on 'presenting information' is being interpreted broadly
here. In reality one of his main concerns is whether the author's
intended message is getting across. When he 'deconstructs' the
Challenger memoranda, for example, he keeps coming back to the question
"Does this chart/graph/illustration lead inescapably to the conclusion
that O-rings fail catastrophically in cold weather or does it just throw
the facts out there and hope the reader will somehow share your
interpretation?" In heated discussions with web-site authors on Usenet,
this issue is the crux of site design. Do you have a specific message or
story to tell in your site, or are you leaving that up to the visitor ?
Some web site designers are adamant that their strategy is to put their
pages out there and 'allow' the user to navigate them willy-nilly and
create their own meaning. In my opinion this is dishonest. It says, "I
had a really compelling idea, I spent hours making the graphics, writing
the text and fighting with my sysop to make it available to you. But I'm
too shy to tell you the idea, so wander around and see if it occurs to
you." Tufte and his web disciples (and they are out there) don't deny
their creativity in the pursuit of objectivity. They put their
creativity in the service of advocacy, of communicating a clear message.
_____________________________________________________________________

Agree: [13]show 'n tell


Re: None [14]Telling a story vs. madlibs (Scott Kinney) Keywords:
Typography, Design, Information Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 04:13:35 GMT
From: [15][log in to unmask] (Steven Johnson -- FEED)

Wonderful post, Scott -- it's great to get some of the sense of the
Usenet debate over these issues. I trust someone somewhere has pointed
to the "How Things Should Look" piece in those newsgroups already. It'd
be nice to have some of that conversation relocate over here for a week
or two...

Here at FEED, we certainly share your belief that web design should
offer some sort of controlling intelligence, some sense of *direction.*
But don't you think it's a little misleading to describe design
philosophies that break from that model -- designs that refuse to
co-ordinate their users' actions in any coherent way -- as being simply
"shy"? It's more that they're trying to be egalitarian in their designs,
letting the user decide which information is significant in the mix,
instead of dictating those choices in advance.

I don't know about you, but I still find something tantalizing in that
idea, even if it's hard to realize in practice. The fact that some
designers are willing to subdue their desire to control the audience's
experience -- couldn't you read that as a sign of integrity, and not
sheepishness?

All of which gets me thinking -- I'd love to hear some specific
appraisals of design on the web. What sites do FEED readers really
admire? What sites don't work for us? Enquiring minds...

Thanks for the great post again,

Steven Johnson FEED
_____________________________________________________________________

Feedback: [16]Components of egalitarian design


Re: Agree [17]show 'n tell (Steven Johnson -- FEED) Keywords:
Typography, Design, Information Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 14:41:43 GMT
From: [18][log in to unmask] (Scott Kinney)

Steve,

Thanks for the response. Every web site has a purpose, and the design
philosophy serves the purpose and the implementation serves the design.
Assuming similar purposes (for the sake of discussion), design is what
makes HotWired look and feel different from Feed or Salon. A better
example would contrast the Revo and Oakley websites. Both have the
purpose of showcasing high-end sunglasses. Revo's design makes it much
easier to find a particular style and know what materials and lenses are
available. More importantly, having found an appealing pair once, the
user can confidently find it again. The Oakley site groups their glasses
under frankly misleading titles (calling a section of the site "physics"
doesn't help me know what styles or product lines are represented.) As a
result, having found an appealing pair of glasses, I'm not at all
confident I could find it again, or direct someone else to it. Both,
however, are graphically handsome, and the implementation serves their
respective designs well. 'Egalitarian' design, or a design that lets the
user find their own significance in the material can be a good or bad
approach depending on the site's purpose. IMO, egalitarian design has 3
parts; 1)the expression of the author's viewpoint, 2)the ability to
navigate freely apart from the author's viewpoint (to find your own
significance) , and 3) tracking the user's response to the material.
Ignoring #1 means the author has set the user's message above her own,
which is not egalitarian (depending on the site's purpose it would be
either shy or dishonest) I agree that implementing 1 and 2 is difficult,
but that's the goal. Ignoring #3 means the site's author has no interest
in the user's viewpoint or in understanding the site's significance to
the user, and that is also not egalitarian. It's the web equivalent of
the Hollywood fighter pilot's phrase "Over and Out", which in real pilot
lingo meant, "You can keep on talking, but I'm not going to listen."
That's merely rude, but designing a site that deliberately evokes a
response but doesn't capture it is both rude and provocative. I've
abused enough of your bandwidth for the time being. Another time we can
discuss whether purposefully obscure organization or navigation controls
can really be claimed to be 'egalitarian.' Or adapting some of Don
Norman's (The Psychology of Everyday Things) to the web to identify
aggressively bad design or implementation.

Scott Kinney
_____________________________________________________________________

None: [19]How Things Should Look


Re: None [20]"How Things Should Look" discussion (Sam Lipsyte -- FEED)
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 06:58:14 GMT From: [21][log in to unmask] (Mike
Zorn)

Now I understand what just happened to hotwired. It obviously got "Ray
Gunned". The Web site used to be great in that it was readable - unlike
the magazine. Now it too has become unreadable. (Though I note that they
have text versions of their content pages.)
_____________________________________________________________________

None: [22]How things should look


Re: None [23]How Things Should Look (Mike Zorn) Date: Wed, 16 Jul 1997
23:01:40 GMT From: [24][log in to unmask] ([25]Greg Ryan)

Wouldn't you think a page on "how things should look" shoul dget rid of
frames so people can view the page??? In my browser, half the text was
cut off, and I couldn't even read the article because of frames. Maybe
they shoul do a story on "why not to use frames" -greg
_____________________________________________________________________

Feedback: [26]Designer vs. Artist


Re: None [27]"How Things Should Look" discussion (Sam Lipsyte -- FEED)
Keywords: Designers, Artists, Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 14:27:45 GMT From:
[28][log in to unmask] (James Tikalsky)

&#34If you know the answer to someone's question -- the fact that below
66 degrees Fahrenheit the O-Rings will weaken, and possibly lead to a
shuttle explosion -- Tufte shows us how to make these answers clear. If
you're purpose, however, is just to question, and not to provide the
answer, because there is no single answer to give, then look at David
Carson and Ray Gun."

To me, this exemplifies the current confusion created by the trendiness
of the title "Designer." True designers, like Tufte, place the solution
they are trying to achieve before their creative impulses. Should their
creativity stand in the way of the solution, that creativity is
discarded. Objectivity is the goal.

Artists, on the other hand, often strive for greater subjectivity in
their work. Who could see the world quite like David Carson? We identify
with his work because he is human, and he is in his work.

The water is futher muddied when design is so good, it's art...
_____________________________________________________________________

Feedback: [29]Visual communication or graphic design?


Re: Feedback [30]Designer vs. Artist (James Tikalsky) Keywords:
Designers, Artists, Semantics?! Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 08:53:10 GMT
From: [31][log in to unmask] (Amber Matthews)

An excellent topic.

"To me, this exemplifies the current confusion created by the trendiness
of the title "Designer." True designers, like Tufte, place the solution
they are trying to achieve before their creative impulses. Should their
creativity stand in the way of the solution, that creativity is
discarded. Objectivity is the goal."

I can certainly identify with the 'artist' vs 'designer' thread to this
discussion. As a (media and) design school graduate, I was constantly
subjected to the typographic school of design snobbery in the pursuit of
my studies. I remember with extreme distaste my contemporaries' final
year pronouncement that they were no longer mere 'designers' but 'visual
communicators'....

Years later I am still put off by this too apparent self importance.
Although I do not dislike David Carson's work, it serves to remind me of
the somewhat too self-conscious effort of being a 'designer' in this
increasingly visual-savvy world. Should the neverending quest for the
visual aesthetic become a matter of semantics and design school
snobbery? I think not.

One last thing - it does not surprise me that both Carson and Tufte
ignore the web as much as they do. They are both happily self-confined
to the print medium, where they can control (or uncontrol) at will, and
leave the business of taming the web to others more confident and dare I
say it, capable, of such a feat.

Good luck to us.
_____________________________________________________________________

None: [32]Tufte on the Web


Re: None [33]"How Things Should Look" discussion (Sam Lipsyte -- FEED)
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 1997 10:00:33 GMT From: [34][log in to unmask]
(Lawrence Lee)

Tufte shares a few comments at the end of an [35]interview with some
bookstore... it repeats the topic about the resolution of monitors
etc...

Read Hot Wired's [36]Net Surf before the weekend to see the story that
send me over here to Feed. He talks about Click Here and it's use on
banners. Not sure, but I see three different banners in two windows and
each of them has "click here" stamped on it.
_____________________________________________________________________

More: [37]lowest common denominators


Re: None [38]Tufte on the Web (Lawrence Lee) Date: Wed, 16 Jul 1997
14:47:07 GMT From: [39][log in to unmask] (Irwin Chen)

Yes, the abominable "click here" you see on most webstuff today
unfortunately says more about ad execs and higher-level creative
directors than actual designers themselves. I'm pretty sure if designers
had their way, they would choose to express themselves with compelling
images or animations rather than words. If you took this down to another
level, it is ultimately a commentary (mistaken or not) on the mythic
"lowest common denominator" used in board meetings and design tutorials.
The excuse I've heard so often is that most people don't pay attention
to the fact that their cursor changes to a hand when you rollover a
link, which necessitates the text "click here." Hopefully, once browsers
can support pages with CD-ROM style interfaces, this will go away and we
will begin to see design that cares about its medium.
_____________________________________________________________________

None: [40]USA Today is not informed by Tufte


Re: None [41]"How Things Should Look" discussion (Sam Lipsyte -- FEED)
Keywords: tufte, usa today Date: Wed, 16 Jul 1997 21:55:00 GMT From:
[42][log in to unmask] (sluggo)

Among the practices of USA Today that are condemned (and even ridiculed)
by Tufte are the unnecessary and jarring use of color, the ubiquitous
employment of "chart-junk," and a stunningly low "data to ink ratio."
USA Today's look is not spare, just its content is.
_____________________________________________________________________

Feedback: [43]...some third point...


Re: None [44]"How Things Should Look" discussion (Sam Lipsyte -- FEED)
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 1997 03:17:00 GMT From: [45][log in to unmask] (Edward
Moyer)

The whole bipolar opposition thing Bennahum sets up--"clean" vs.
"dirty," "rational" vs. "emotional"--seems convenient at best, ignorant
at worst. In any case, it's simplistic and reductive. Let's say, for
example, you have an emotional *text*. What's the last thing you read
that made you cry? I'll use Tillie's Olsen's short story "Tell Me a
Riddle" as an example. If Carson gets commissioned to design a special
edition of her work, chances are he drains it of some (if not most) of
its power. A different designer (I'm not familiar with Tufte's work, so
I can't say) maybe gets out of the way--gracefully, elegantly,
whatever--and let's the story move through the reader. Is his or her
design any less "emotional" then Carson's? It seems to me that Ray Gun
was/is about design, not text (once you get past the one-liner about
deconstructing/subverting/mutilating the music-biz puff piece as
representative of massmedia/consumermania puff piece thing. Which only
goes so far anyway. If you *really* want to make your readers "work,"
why print puff at all?). Whatever. It works visually, and that's fine.
Point is, it's about something different, just as Web sites are about
different things. Some of them are "rational," some "emotional," some
both, some a pinch of one and a handful of the other, and so on. And
this will continue to be the case. The same holds true, I think, for the
egalitarian issue. If we stick with the design/text relationship, somes
sites will privilege the text, others the design, and still others will
go for a "true" marriage/collaboration between the two. These final
sites in the list are exciting to think about, but I don't know that
they'll lead the others to extinction. Perhaps text-based sites *will*
die out. Who knows. It's commonplace, the old "who wants to stare at a
computer screen for a whole chapter? and besides I can't read it in the
bathtub" argument. But even if the opposite happened, even if *text*
"won" out, there'd still be the argument of linear vs. nonlinear. That
goes back farther than Tristram Shandy (in fact, nonlinear and linear
are siamese twins), and there are both kinds of books, and a tremendous
number of permutations, from dictionaries to novels to almanacs to
memoirs to car-parts catalogs. The "technology" of "the book" (you can
extend this to whatever print media you like) finds room for them all.
And I suppose the Web will, too. Why get in the way of that with some
pronouncement or other? Bennahum seems to be hinting that some third
point, the middle point, will rise up and bury the tyranny of the very
opposition he's set up, but why champion this panacea-like "unity" at
the expense of multiplicity?
_____________________________________________________________________

Feedback: [46]Print Reporters Reminiscent of J. Edgar Hoover


Re: None [47]"How Things Should Look" discussion (Sam Lipsyte -- FEED)
Keywords: liberty, Hoover, Hitler, newspaper Date: Fri, 18 Jul 1997
19:48:11 GMT From: [48][log in to unmask] ([49]Michael R.
Martin)

The debate between the government and standard news reporters reminds me
of J. Edgar Hoover and Adolf Hitler. The criticism of the Internet by
"organizations" around the world reminds us that there are
power-mongering people out there that simply want to strip away other
people's liberty.

Print media such as USA Today want to constantly complain about the
inadequecies of the Web the same way Hoover would intermittantly "crack
down" on mafiosos and gays. In fact, he needed those people around to
maintain his status (his job!) the same way that newpaper editors are
now condemning the future of electronic publishing. Why are the links to
this article advertisements for books? If this were a pure form of
expression, thoughts would be free, right? Why must Web design
conceptualists create a mythology?

Hitler had to find Jews to hate to explain the failed German economy.
Newpaper publishers find the new tools of expression to hate just to
explain their stodgy old philosophy of delivering stacks of paper at
your door mostly consisting of advertising something that will entice
you to part of your hard-earned dollars. The justification is the same:
it helps the economy.

If nothing else, the electronic information is just as viable as the
stuff you watch on TV or read in the Times but doesn't sacrifice as many
electrons, trees, fossil fuels, etc. to get to you.
_____________________________________________________________________

Note: [50]Carson designed the MGM site


Re: None [51]"How Things Should Look" discussion (Sam Lipsyte -- FEED)
Date: Mon, 21 Jul 1997 21:00:30 GMT From: [52][log in to unmask]
([53]Beth Bornhurst)

David Carson designed the look of our website at MGM. I'd be curious to
hear other designers thoughts about it.

We are at www.mgm.com

Thanks.

Beth

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