I have C.R.A.P. to say so far…

I am having a hard time deciding what I have to say about this week’s readings, but only because I don’t know whether to go theoretical with Trimbur’s article or to be practical with Williams’ book.

Williams is going to be useful, as I haven’t had any design classes. Being more aware of how designers use contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity when creating pages may change the way I look at pages from now on. I hope that I won’t forget to also stay aware of content.

Design, so far, has just been something I read a little about on my own. I used to think it was all fluff, until I realized that design can also be about living consciously. That is, being aware of not only the aesthetics, but also the function and sustainability of every material thing in one’s world. Learning to think of aesthetics as functional also helped changed my mind about design. Working in a windowless space with colorless paint peeling off the walls under too-bright fluorescent lights makes me think that aesthetics could actually influence human health, for better or worse.

Trimbur touches on those ideas in “Delivering the Message.” This was a fascinating look at the impact of visual context on text, and how the message can actually change when you take an article or essay out of its context, away from the other text and images on the same page, and study it in isolation.

The part I found most interesting was the paragraph on page 268 which begins, “The complicated relationship between reading and seeing text and image raises…”. Williams raises some questions, but refers us to other texts for the answers (or more discussion, anyway). We have a book by Kress in the library, and I requested Graphic Design in America: A visual language history through Mobius so I can read more on Giovannini’s ideas about “hyperactive” pages encouraging browsing rather than reading. Lack of in-depth reading is a sad state of affairs, but I am as guilty as most people of sometimes skimming online articles, rather than really reading, and sometimes I stop after the first page so I can move on to the latest facebook quiz a “friend” just completed. I hope Giovannini includes a discussion about how individuals find their own reading paths to negotiate a page. Knowing more about that would be helpful when designing a page I want people to pay attention to.

For now, what I have found that gets real attention is simply engaging with people online. That’s not really part of this course, I guess, but it seems crucial to building a readership and having good online discussions. I learned this accidentally because I was blogging with a group of people a few years ago. We became friends, about 100 of us, by reading and commenting on one another’s blogs. About 30 of us meet in Philadelphia every summer now for some face-to-face time and margaritas. The first time I attended it was more like a reunion with best friends than a first-time meeting. Writing had let us get to know one another from the inside out.

But back to visual rhetoric, design, typography, and C.R.A.P., I still don’t know what I want to say.

The following simple graphic is a lot like how I feel when I try to read online. After just an hour, I might have 10 tabs open to articles I think I’ll go back and finish later. I rarely finish them.

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One response to “I have C.R.A.P. to say so far…”

  1. jamesericsentell says :

    There are some connections here among typography, design, and new media. The aesthetics of a given social media site can have a huge influence on whether people use that site, and thus whether people connect through it. Typography and design can also affect how people process a text. The intersections among the ideas in this post could form the basis of a scholarly article!

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