diversification of minds - conversation in processes
design for communities

Tokyo, 07.10 - 09.10 1999

10 09 pm<Mapping Relations>
Mikio Wakabayashi, Tsukuba University, Tsukuba, Japan

Figures of co-existence: Communication and Communities

I will try to examine the problem of information design from the perspective of 'figures of co-existence' of human beings in communities.

Communities are spheres of relationships of people and other living and non-living things, including imaginary beings. No single individual community member can experience the total of these relationships. The global extent of a community can only be grasped through representations such as maps or discourses such as myths and news. Through such representations and discourses each member can share the global view of the world with others. This leads to the following conclusions:
Firstly, we cannot obtain a global view of a community or the world through information about them alone.
Secondly, there are systems which maintain production, circulation and the sharing of information regarding global views within a community.
Thirdly, communities do not consist of the spheres of relationships of concrete beings alone, but also the spheres of relationships of information- produced, circulated and shared by its members.

Maps are media that represent 'figures of co-existence', allow people to share information with each other, and describe the field of relationships between humans and their environment.
In the long history of humans, maps have represented different concepts of the world and made up different 'figures of co-existence'. Ancient or medieval world maps included many mythical characters. Today's 'scientific' maps show a quite different world, different 'figures of co-existence'. A world atlas and a road map show dissimilar features of the same world. The map is not only a medium of representation but also an apparatus through which people can find specific interpretations of the world and which can help to shape relationships within society.

Maps are not the only means for modeling 'forms of co-existence'. Many other representations, signs and images around us and their production, circulation and sharing are shaping 'figures of co-existence'. In the architecture of urban spaces, and even in natural landscapes, we can find a vast variety of representations, signs and images. Our world is full of such elements and we communicate with others by referring to these.

From this point of view, sociology as the 'reading of society' and Information Design as the 'designing of the information environment' are very close disciplines.
In my presentation I will be trying to find contact points of such 'readings' and 'designs', using material gained through empirical observations.

searching the vp7 database, you may find more about Mikio Wakabayashi:

about this search:

The vp7 site database contains not only all published material related to the conference but as well an extensive list of references to issues of information design.

download the vp7 Sherlock PlugIn for MacOS 8.5x.