diversification of minds - conversation in processes
design for communities

Tokyo, 07.10 - 09.10 1999

10 09 am<Informationscapes>
moderated by Shin Mizukoshi, Tokyo University, Tokyo, Japan

Information technology, most evident in the form of the internet, continues to rapidly permeate our society. In the business world, easier, simpler, speedier, and more convenient communication is becoming a reality on a global scale. Yet digital information technology has also helped to widen the information gap between the information haves and have-nots. Often, 'Globalization' has meant 'Americanization' for some countries, and traditional forms of media have suffered in the face of this rapid change.

The problems concerning information and media cannot be solved by merely improving information technology. To overcome these problems and fully realize the new potential of media in our society, we must consciously design for future media and information exchange. Furthermore, developers of such designs should not be limited to professional designers and planners. Only design created with input from the general public can generate information systems with sufficient variety and breadth, and media that accurately reflect society.

This will not be an easy goal to realize, however. In reality, political, economic, and cultural factors heavily influence information and the media. Even well-conceived information design may not be seen as such by the user. Often, the way a user interprets and understands a particular piece of information design differs greatly from the original intentions of the designer. To put it another way, even if information is successfully designed, differing interpretations of that design may be irreconcilable.

To help us consider this issue in more concrete terms, this session will introduce three examples of public information spaces.

Akio Nakamata's project concerns the creation of an on-line version of 'Book and Computer,' a forum for thinking about the future of books and magazines in the digital age. Even in our changing society with a variety of digital media providing an overflow of information, printed media such as books and magazines retain a cultural, human significance. However, an increasingly large number of people around the world are gradually discarding printed media as a source of information causing alarm in the printing industry. What design form should printed media culture follow in order to firmly root itself in the wilderness of cyberspace? We would like to take this opportunity to discuss the possibilities of, and topics relating to publishing in cyberspace.

Akihiko Seki of Malaysia has contributed to the development of software such as 'Monja Kids,' and worked on network projects including the 'Asia Channel' with the goal of creating a communication space for the people of Asia. As a theme, we will focus on how the design of a media and information space provides a framework for communication across national borders, and conversely, how communication between people affects the design of media and information spaces.

The mutual effect relationship between a designer's intentions and societies' interpretation of the design is one of the fundamental issues discussed in design theory. We will center our discussion on actual examples, provided by Joachim Mueller-Lance, of the relationship between society and design in the field of public design.

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