Tags: semiotics

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Letterform Archive – From the Collection: Blissymbolics

The fascinating story of Charles K. Bliss and his symbolic language:

The writing system – originally named World Writing in 1942, then Semantography in 1947, and finally Blissymoblics in the 1960s – contains several hundred basic geometric symbols (“Bliss-characters”) that can be combined in different ways to represent more complex concepts (“Bliss-words”). For example, the Bliss-characters for “house” and “medical” are combined to form the Bliss-word for “hospital” or “clinic”. The modular structure invites comparison to the German language; the German word for “hospital ” – “krankenhaus” – translates directly to “sick house”.

The Woman Who Gave the Macintosh a Smile | The New Yorker

A profile of Susan Kare, icon designer extraordinaire.

I loved the puzzle-like nature of working in sixteen-by-sixteen and thirty-two-by-thirty-two pixel icon grids, and the marriage of craft and metaphor.

Greetings, E.T. (Please Don’t Murder Us.) - The New York Times

Steven Johnson dives deep into the METI project, starting with the Arecibo message and covering Lincos, the Drake equation, and the Fermi paradox.

He also wrote about what he left out of the article and mentions that he’s writing a book on long-term decision making.

In a sense, the METI debate runs parallel to other existential decisions that we will be confronting in the coming decades, as our technological and scientific powers increase. Should we create superintelligent machines that exceed our own intellectual capabilities by such a wide margin that we cease to understand how their intelligence works? Should we ‘‘cure’’ death, as many technologists are proposing? Like METI, these are potentially among the most momentous decisions human beings will ever make, and yet the number of people actively participating in those decisions — or even aware such decisions are being made — is minuscule.

History of Icons – a visual brief on icon history by FUTURAMO

An illustrated history of digital iconography.

Free Icon Design Guide - Icon Utopia

Here you go: a free book on icon design in three parts, delivered via email.

Atomic Classification | Trent Walton

There is one truism that has been constant throughout my career on the web, and it’s this: naming things is hard.

Trent talks about the strategies out there for naming things. He makes specific mention of Atomic Design, which as Brad is always at pains to point out, is just one way of naming things: atoms, molecules, organisms, etc.

In some situations, having that pre-made vocabulary is perfect. In other situations, I’ve seen it cause all sorts of problems. It all depends on the project and the people.

Personally, I like the vocabulary to emerge from the domain knowledge of the people on the project. Building a newspaper website? Use journalism-related terms. Making a website about bicycles? Use bike-related terms.

Most importantly, make the naming process a collaborative exercise, as outlined by Alla and Charlotte.

A Semiotic Approach to Designing Interfaces // Speaker Deck

This looks like a terrific presentation from Alla on iconography, semiotics, and communication.

Hamburger icon: How these three lines mystify most people - BBC News

The controversial hamburger icon goes mainstream with this story on the BBC News site.

It still amazes me that, despite clear data, many designers cling to the belief that the icon by itself is understandable (or that users will “figure it out eventually”). Why the aversion to having a label for the icon?

Thomas Byttebier - The best icon is a text label

A look at the risks of relying on a purely graphical icon for interface actions. When in doubt, label it.

Alien | Typeset In The Future

Typeset In The Future is back with another cracking analysis. This time—following on from 2001 and Moon—we’ve got Alien.

In her final recorded message before hypersleep, Ripley notes that she is the sole survivor of the Nostromo. What she forgets to mention is that she has not once in the past two hours encountered any Eurostile Bold Extended.

Origins of Common UI Symbols

A lovely little tour of eleven ubiquitous icons.

The Icon Handbook | The Hickensian | Hicksdesign

Jon gives us a run-through on what to expect from his new book. I’ve had a sneak peek and it looks amazing—I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Damn Interesting • This Place is Not a Place of Honor

Trying to design a warning message for future generations, without relying on language, writing or current semiotics.

We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture. This place is not a place of honor…no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here. What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us.