My, How Things Have Changed
Posted by knoblockj
The best description of the term genre as applied to information design is the term “fluid.” Michael J. Salvo and Paula Rosinski, in their article, Information Design: From Authoring Text to Architecting Virtual Space, explain how the evolution of print documents to digital documents represent the history if the genre of information design. Fluid is an accurate description as the presentation of information will change form depending on the vehicle being used. As the vehicle advances, or changes, the way in which people receive and use the information also changes.
Years ago, when I planned my wedding, I bought a wedding planning kit that contained a book of check lists and reminders, a timeline and schedule, and a million different advertisements and pieces of valuable information. I ordered invitations through the mail, from a print catalog. I sent out RSVP cards with self addressed, stamped envelopes so my guests could easily, with no cost to them, let me know if they planned to attend.
I kept my family and wedding party in the loop with constant phone calls. I sent out (via the United States Postal Service) information packets containing a schedule, itinerary, and phone numbers & addresses to the dress and tux shop, venue, hotel, etc. I did all of my shopping for decorations, favors, in person. I found the most recommended DJ and cake lady by asking the event planner from the venue for referrals. Because I worked at a newspaper, I had the luxury of designing and creating my own programs, using colored paper, art catalogs, a typewriter, and a photocopier.
Last year, I helped my son and his fiancé plan their wedding. Kari (the bride-to-be) created a private wedding website for her to post her ideas, plans, thoughts, likes, etc. That way, I could log in, see her ideas, and know her vision. We used interactive spreadsheets to account for RSVP’s. We designed the invitations using publishing software and ordered them online. We inserted small cards with RSVP instructions for text, email, and snail mail (for the technologically challenged). We used Google to search for ideas, decorations, recipes, favors, or anything and everything we needed. We used Facebook groups to keep family and wedding party members informed. We found the best places to get a cake and entertainment by asking the Facebook world for suggestions. The wedding party simply had to submit their measurements and payments via the shop website. We used software to pre-plan the room layout.
Salvo and Rosinski, in their article, discuss the evolution of communication in small changes.
“Over time, small changes accumulate and result in new emerging genres. In the clearest example, memos have become email, but so too email has been altered quickly into instant messages, Twitter posts, and position papers and diaries rearticulated online as blogs” (p. 107).
As I realized the jump that RSVP’s took, from mailable cards with self addressed, stamped envelopes, to text and email, I began to consider how much the whole entire process of wedding planning has changed due to technology and information design.
Likewise, I remember a day when I checked my email first thing every morning, and several times throughout the day, just to see if my friends or family sent me something. Today, I check it out of obligation, knowing that I’ll find advertising or business notices, and nothing fun and exciting. Instead, my friends and family use text or Messenger to contact me.
Remember when voicemail was the best thing ever? My dad had one of the very first answering machines, called the Code-a-phone. Today, if I leave a voicemail for my son, he flips out. “Mom, I can see that you called. I’ll call you back,” or “Mom, don’t leave a message. Just text it to me.” Apparently, it takes too much time and effort to dial voicemail and listen to the message. By the time I catch on, texting will be out and he’ll have a new message preference.
Spilka, Rachel. (2010). Digital literacy for technical communication. “Information design: From authoring text to architecting virtual space. Taylor & Francis Group. New York, NY.
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