Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Too Much Information?

In what ways has easy access to so much information, much of it for free (Project Gutenberg, NASA digital elevation maps, baseball statistics, Wikipedia, etc.), changed the way we live, consume, think, communicate, and value? For example, does not knowing matter when it is so easy to know something? I think this has, in a way, killed trivia. Before the internet, Trivial Pursuit was a phenomenon because it was a novel information source - now it is a sad box of mostly expired information. Coudal had a trivia contest a couple of years ago, except they vetted the questions, making sure the information wasn't on the internet - until they posted the answers. How long will it be until every known thing is searchable and knowable?

Can design reject itself?

This article on Design Observer is about the state of graphic design and illustration, but mentions a book by John Carey called What Good are the Arts? In it, the author contends that literature is the pre-eminent art form because:
it can criticize itself. Pieces of music can parody other pieces, and paintings can caricature paintings. But this does not amount to a total rejection of music and painting. Literature, however, can totally reject literature, and in this it shows itself more powerful and self-aware than any other art.
I have no desire to jump into the 'art or design' fray, but I think it does provoke an interesting question: Can a designed object "totally reject" design? I'm not sure what rejecting design would entail (maybe reading the self-rejection of literature would be helpful?), but it could be a compelling investigation.