Blog Design

Cool Has No Law

I intend to be cool

  Although, I think being cool is like being a celebrity:
  If you have to say it, it probably ain't true.
  Being cool, though, does not just mean being popular:
  it can  mean cold, awesome, interesting, quirky,
  inspiring, exhilarating, disinterested, bad, calm, wonderful.

So what is information cool?


It comes from The Laws of Cool
(2004) by Alan Lui. He was writing
about something that had been going
on for a while in the media industry.
People were starting to realise
that format really affects how
people take on information.
 This affects all mediums (media),
    especially the Internet.

I really don’t like Dirt Style.

When I first used the internet in the mid 90s
I thought it was really tacky and 'uncool' so I avoided it.
I preferred books and magazines because they were
printed, tangible, and more beautiful.

Neopets ↑ just didn't reach the high standards set by
video games and presentation of sites was often
dreary, hard to access and plain.

A reaction against this kind of over-animated, fluorescent,
Hello Kitty-style design is evident in closed source devices
like Apple products. I think open source is great for bloggers
and techies, but confusing and off-putting for the average
user. The success of Apple (I promise I don't work for them!)
is due to the fact they've made simple products which any
person can use intuitively. 

I suppose in a really abstract sense this blog should be
similar because it is trying to condense the clutter of the media.
I think as the simple aesthetic of the internet improves
people have been drawn to it. Kind of like why the iPod
was more popular than other Mp3 players.

Compare the pair:


1) Normal Mp3 Player

Asymmetrical design does not
fit well with the minimalist
trend in today's technology

2) iPod

Epitomises anti-design
and intuitive technology

This is what Lui means by information cool.

There is a 'struggle' between the music and the device,
highlighting that the listener's experience is
influenced by the the aesthetics of the music player.

                                         This means that presenting information in an unordinary
                                         way might mean the reader keeps reading even if they
                                         would turn away from the same information presented in
                                         a different format.

         Like McLuhan said, the medium is the message.
         And in this case, it is not just the blog, or
         its content, but the way it presents itself
         and the content that will distinguish it.

                      The Guardian newspaper in London has hired Michael Robinson to do their graphic design.
                      He is responsible for presenting the information in a way that grabs people's attention
                      while not distracting them from the facts. I think this is an important part of cool. While
                      cool competes with knowledge, it does not defeat it, but makes it more interesting, more
                      cool.

                                            Robinson turns information like carbon dioxide output per country
                                            into a striking graph that you want to cut out and keep for art's sake:

               You have to be able to follow the story but at
               the same time be interested by the form it takes.

               Similarly, news and blogging today is not just about opinion.
               Presentation of information is integral.

In an interview with Grafik Magazine, Robinson said that
design should be comfortable, un-intimidating, and easy to understand.
Design is a "visual language" - that is, more than just regurgitating facts.
I think this technique is worth more than complementing your story/blog with with pictures and YouTube videos, because it helps people to understand the message without being confronted by it. It is 'cool' because the design makes it easier to digest, more interesting, and more engaging.

Geert Lovink spoke to Alan Lui about exactly what he
meant by his definition of cool. Lui says it is being
slightly rebellious, kooky, a little subversive, but not to the extreme where you are downright anarchic.
It is the subtle challenge to the system.

Lui says:

              "There is no “producer” today in any realm (scholarship,
               the film industry, the technology industry, journalism,
               you name it) who is not first of all a prolific and
               creative “reader.”
                              With my niche topic I don't want to just be another news source
                              or opinion writer. The blog should present the same information in a new way.

                                                            Like looking at a painting from a different angle, listening to a song when
                                                            you are drunk, dancing late at night, perspective in a story can alter how
                                                            people make up their minds. 

                                                                                                                ---The Header--- is just an experiment to see what I
                                                                                                                could make. It's kind of obvious what it means: all the clutter implies
                                                                                                               that there is so much media out there, even just in Melbourne, so there is
                                                                                                               always a second opinion. 

                                                            This blog, as much as possible, will try to distil the noise into something
                                                            meaningful, something...dare I say...cool?

                              I've tried to avoid too many widgets because they can often be annoying
                              or confusing. 

                              That said, I will always annoy readers with freaky paragraph spacing because
                              it makes you move your eyes while staring at a computer screen!

This art is from infosthetics.com. It is cool. Can you guess what it is? Answer: A map of mouse movements from a single computer over a long time.
I drew inspiration from some wicked sites and magazines:
http://infosthetics.com/        turns boring information into art
http://www.grafikmag.com/       is the mag of choice for graphic designers


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1 Comment

Filed under Net Communications

One response to “Blog Design

  1. indi

    really cool lach. i like how relevant this one is. youre so ‘down with’ modern social trends. good work

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