diversification of minds - conversation in processes
design for communities

Tokyo, 07.10 - 09.10 1999

10 07 am<Concepts of Information Design Strategies>
moderated by Tomomi Tsubota, Nihon Keizai Shinbun Inc, Tokyo, Japan

Still at the Dawn of the Information Society

In Japan, the term 'Information Society' became popular in the 1960s. Then, the term was associated with the wonders of television technology. It prevailed with the development of information technology and the widespread use of personal computers, with which the information society seemed to all of us to have become a reality. Later in 1993, when the newly developed 'Mosaic' browser was distributed free of charge, the Internet became the central player of this information society.

According to Paul Strassmann, a former executive of Xerox Corporation, productivity has increased tenfold at every stage of the advancement of civilization - from the hunting society to the agrarian society, to the industrialized society, and then, the information society. (Paul Strassmann, 'Information payoff')

The core of the progression from the industrialized society to the information society is intellectual productivity. As shown in Figure 2, we perform a specific 'decision-making loop' in everyday life. When purchasing products, obtaining a job, getting married, in business, or in other everyday routines, we follow the process of
- finding issues,
- gathering information,
- narrowing down options,
- making a decision,
- taking action.
Those who can turn the loop 'quickly' and 'efficiently' will win in business as well as in life.

The point is whether one has the editing tools and the know-how for gathering information and pursuing an argument. Herein lies the importance of 'Information Design'. Conveying information in a way that is intelligible; understanding information accurately; and processing information more quickly; all these abilities are vital to increased productivity. When launching the 'Electronic Media Business', we at Nihon Keizai Shinbun set an ideal model for the management of 'contents': contents need to be supplied 'at perfect timing, in the right amount, and in appropriate forms of representation'.

Media, that once followed different paths, are now integrated thanks to digitalization. New forms of expression and distribution became possible. Key words are 'on-demand', 'customization', and 'seamless'. A large number of documents will be compiled to HTML, the 'Hypertext Transfer Markup Language', and will be made accessible via networks. As such, information will become a constituent element of the environment. Companies in the computer, consumer electronics and software industries will compete in how to provide such 'information environments' to the users. The point here again is 'design'. The appropriateness of information design for a specific product - what will be shown by the product, and how, and what sort of information will be conveyed - will determine the value of the product.

Thus, with yet immature information technology and information design, we are still at the early stage of the development of the information society. For its development, I sincerely hope that this conference will be an opportunity to find solutions to the most substantial issues.

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