Saturday, March 6, 2010

760: on carliner

Not to belabor the inability to define information design (ID), but Carliner refers to ID first as a notion -- IDers "look at the bigger picture: What problem is the client trying to solve, what can I bring to address the problem, and how does this solution support the larger business situation" (43). A page later he defines ID as a discipline: "Design as problem solving ... designers focus on the solution ... design is a problem-solving discipline" (44).

Knowing that I need to move on and not make this definition-deficiency an issue, I really like Carliner's three-part goal-oriented framework for ID (the notion, practice, field, discipline, whatever).
  • Physical - the ability to find information
  • Cognitive - the ability to understand information
  • Affective - the ability to feel comfortable with the presentation of the information
In many ways, the framework represents my understanding of heuristics and something I'm pretty sure that most composition scholars are/should be familiar with.

I also like what Carliner is attempting to do with the framework (as he qualifies it in his conclusion) because I can locate my own practices within it. I seem most comfortable with the physical and cognitive levels of the framework. The affective level seems like "point of failure" motivation to me, although I know that's incomplete and inconsistent with what Carliner is describing here. It’s just that things like behavioral change, change management, and performance improvement are always the moving targets of the project. It is, quite honestly, often easier and sometimes necessary to avoid the affective level just to get the project done.

As a complete aside: I could probably have gone without Carliner's clarification of what he meant by "pre-digested information" on page 51. Dude, really? A description of how LactAid works?

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