As we begin our fifth volume of PJIM we extend heartfelt thanks to both contributors and readers for their support and interest over the past years. When the journal was initiated it served as a supplemental effort to our lab’s research and deliverables; now it has taken on a purpose of its own—focusing on how data can be rendered into patterns that match human cognitive processes resulting in knowledge. This “Knowing more” quality requires both the technology to render effective interfaces and a great sweep of semantic tools, permitting those who work with information to communicate “behind the scenes of the interface.” For this issue we’ve looked at some of these underlying educational factors: the language of the information designer, the evolving means by which typography is classified, how an instructor challenges a class of emerging practitioners. Our fourth paper looks at how statistical data can reveal more through improved and next generation visualization. This is, in essence, what all the foundational aspects of semantic, taxonomy, and teaching promise. So, within this issue is a kind of microcosm of the information design process: teaching, taxonomies, and semantics leading to potential new views for the data we handle everyday.
Jihoon Kang, Publisher, and William Bevington, Editor-in-Chief
Parsons Journal for Information Mapping
by Chun-wo Pat, MFA
by Taylor Childers, Jessica Griscti & Liberty Leben
by Marek Kultys, MA
by Aaron Lai, MSc, Thomas Ho, BS, Ryan Walker, MA, & Allison Sullivan, PhD
A stroke, a letter, a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a page, and a book: all essentially linear constructs of the typographic mind put into action. There is a typographic order of “things,” a logical sequence from the most simple, to the most complex. A line, a space, a rectangle, a margin—an aesthetic device for visuality. As an infinite list of signifiers, the above lists signify the qualitative/quantitative display of the visual properties of typography: the micro and the macro, the color and the density, the positives and the negatives, the visible and the invisibles; these are some of the typographic paradigms that yield communicative visualization.
I taught typography and information design concurrently for more than a decade in the Parsons Communication Design program (now Parsons The New School for Design), serving as a full-time faculty member between 1998–2011. The intrinsic properties of these mutually reciprocal endeavors, typography and information design, form the “twin topic” subjects of this brief investigation. I believe I have succeeded in sharing my fascination with all my students, they who were most patiently tormented by my investigative interrogations. Indeed, it was reputed that I, not they, were confused; this earned me, in some circles, the stigma of being the most “confused” instructor of all time.
This paper is serves as a succinct teaching tool capturing some of the theories I have developed over my tenure in Parsons. The pedagogies and methods I incorporate in this paper can be considered as a summary of that investigation. It illustrates the dialogue I have had with my students, my colleagues, and myself. These conversations took place in the classrooms of course, but they were never limited by such boundaries; they were carried into the streets and many restaurants that surround the campus; in fact, the conversation to understand more of these two topics does not cease. I do not pretend that my paper is a didactic discourse to provide instruc-tional practicality, but I do hope that some readers, especially design students who anticipate to embark an education on typographic studies and its intrinsic relationship with information design will find it interesting and useful.
Chun-wo Pat is a professor teaching Information Design and Typography within Parsons The New School for Design, New York, and assistant lecturer in CityTech, CUNY and has lectured widely. Pat has been actively involved with the international design communities as curator/exhibition designer for DMY/Berlin, Germany, Danish Design Center, Copenhagen, Denmark, as well as visiting lecturer/professor in Xue Xue Institute and YunTech, Taiwan and Hong Kong Design Centre, Hong Kong.
Pat is the principal and owner of Whitespace Integrated Design, formed in 1996. His creative services intersect cultural institutions, community-based organizations and business corporations. Formerly, Pat served as the first Executive Director in Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design. He worked at de Harak & Poulin Associates and the Pushpin Group as senior designer prior to his own practice.
Living in the context of increasing flow of cultural interactions around the world, Pat has researched, and developed theories, on an ideographic-based principle in typography and information design as a tool for both teaching and professional practice—a East-West synthesis to transcend linguistic barriers in global communications. His work has earned him national as well as international recognitions in the area of cross-cultural design.
Pat’s vision of design is diffused in various publications. Among them were Ming Pao Monthly (Hong Kong), Typefaces, Print magazine, ID magazine, East magazine (Hong Kong). He was also involved with architectural and monument design projects to engage the public with the force of written words. Such projects include the bilingual stele for Nelson Ying family graveyard, Albany; the trilingual memorial marker for the holocaust hero Ho Feng Shan in Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, China; and the multilingual banner system for Charled B. Wang Center, SUNY Stonybrook.
Chun-wo Pat, holds an MFA from Yale University, and a BFA from the Cooper Union. He has been actively engaged as an instructor, professor and lecturer for over fifteen years.
Typeface Classification, type specimens, type systems, typeface taxonomy, typography
Varying typeforms for the Western printing process have been concurrently designed since the invention of the printing press c1450. Even though the variation of styles have expanded in number with fairly good documentation, and even though the process has been essentially evolutionary, the design community has yet to develop a comprehensive system of classification. Many attempts have been made to standardize, but thus far, no naming system has been successful to the point of its general adaption. This paper analyses 25 typeface classification systems published in the last century, ranging from typographic greats like Theodore Low De Vinne and Maximilien Vox and culminating with contemporary type and design scholars such as Ellen Lupton and Robert Bringhurst. Each system (despite its original visual organization or lack thereof) is presented through a the visual standardization of a color-coded pie chart. The color codes reference three main branches of type design: Serif, Sans Serif, and Topical (Topical is the term used by Bevington/Chong to reference a subdivision of non-text faces). In our concluding demonstration we use this term “Topical,” to replace “Display.” By examining a wide cross section of naming taxonomies, we observe those names that have prevailed, those that failed, and those that deserve renewed support in the hierarchy of typeface class names. We see the useful, and the daring, as they are removed or affixed to the typographic lexicon. Each name, from all the systems, within our wider categories of Serif, Sans Serif, and Topical are collected into a series of master diagrams. From these a final, suggested master classification, our cumulative research effort is presented. We submit this master as a suggested industry standard.
Taylor Childers is currently a BFA in Communication Design at Parsons, The New School for Design, holds a design internship for the Indiana Department of Education. She has always had a particular fascination with the art of typography.
Jessica Griscti is currently pursuing dual degree, BFA and BA In Communication Design and Writing at Parsons The New School for Design, Jessica Griscti is a part time designer for C&G Partners LLC. She’s been nursing an unhealthy fondness for all things typography before she learned to read.
Liberty Leben is currently pursuing BFA in Communication Design at Parsons The New School for Design, Liberty Leben was born and raised in Wichita, KS, but spent her final years of high school living in Austin, TX. Liberty currently lives and studies in New York City.
Data explorers, design commandments, design rudiments, image-making, scientists, tutorial, visual language, visual structures, VisWeek2012
This article discusses terminology useful toward the creation and discussion of visualizations. It continues and expands on a hands-on tutorial delivered by the author at the VisWeek2012 conference in October 2012 in Seattle, WA.
Today, many fields of scientific activity have become increasingly reliant on visuals as means of dissemination, exploration, and analysis of information. Consequently, either directly or through computer coding, many scientists become de facto image-makers. This article aims at providing basic introduction to visual language to those data explorers, those who depend in their fields of activity for producing (creating or generating) images. Five elements (the vocabulary) of visual language and four visual structures (the grammar) are defined, explained, and discussed. These aspects of the vocabulary and grammar of visual language are then elucidated through pictorial examples, thus presenting basic interdisciplinary knowledge of the subject from a design practitioner’s perspective.
The article concludes with a bibliography with recommendations of valuable readings for further investigation of the topic. It is hoped that the paper provides useful background to be informedly used in readers’ own image-making activities.
Marek Kultys, MA is a very interdisciplinary communication designer, design consultant and an independent researcher based in London, UK. He works in the field of visual communication, information design and visualizing invisible structures. While actively collaborating with scientists, information mappers, educators, and other designers, Marek also pursues his own research into the interplay between design and sciences. Values design that makes people think, understand and act.
Marek holds M.A. in Communication Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, having previously studied design in Warsaw and Zürich. He exhibits, speaks and teaches internationally.
CHIS, interaction visualization, lifestyle, obesity, race, sugar, Tableau Software
Visual analytics is gaining importance due to the explosion of data availability and processing capabilities. This growing field has the potential to inform a wide array of disciplines. In this article, we demonstrate a social science application of the data visualization software Tableau by performing an analysis of obesity in California. Extensive research has documented the increasing levels of obesity in the U.S. and the implications for public health. Most of these studies use some variation of a regression analysis, which, although useful for traditionally statistical relationships, can make detecting new relationships difficult. Visual analytics provides a potential solution to explore how formerly unseen attributes may be associated with each other. We explore the relationship between obesity and health behaviors using data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). CHIS collects extensive information on socio-demographic background and health behaviors. Our analysis focuses on three key health behaviors: vegetable, soda, and French fry consumption. We explore how these variables interact with gender, age, race, and several other characteristics by body mass index (BMI).
We find notable differences in health behaviors by gender, level of obesity, and race. The visual analytics tool helped us to identify various factors related to obesity that merit further investigation. More broadly, our demonstration provides an excellent example of how visual analytic tools can empower end-users to find interesting relationships within a morass of data.
Aaron Lai, CFA, is the Senior Manager of Marketing Analytics. He has extensive experience in consumer analytics with publications in both academic and professional journals. He has a M.Sc. in sociology and is studying for another M.Sc. in Evidence-based Healthcare both from the University of Oxford.
Thomas Ho is an experienced statistical modeler and is currently a Lead Marketing Analyst. His expertise is in scorecard development for consumer and commercial marketing and risk management.
Ryan Walker is a PhD candidate in Mathematics at the University of Kentucky.
Allison Sullivan is a survey analyst at Blue Shield of California. She has a Ph.D. in demography from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the associations between socioeconomic status, social support, and mortality.