Monday, September 28, 2015

Phones and shops: two schema shifts from history

Trying to explain schema theory at our recent summer school, I mentioned these two examples. The first is the user guide developed by Sainsbury's in the early 1950s to explain to customers how self-service shopping works. The second is an early set of instructions about how to use a telephone.

Source: I scanned this from an article in Sainsbury's customer magazine some years ago, but have lost track of the citation. 

Source: the BT museum. 

Schemas* are mental structures that we use to organise knowledge. We try to fit new information into our existing schemas, and we bring our existing world knowledge into play as we interpret any information. Schema theory is associated with the psychologist Frederic Bartlett, and it is also central to the work of the child psychologist Jean Piaget, who saw schemata as the basic building blocks of thinking.

Bartlett, F.C. (1932), Remembering: An Experimental and Social Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

* yes, the correct plural is really 'schemata' as it's from the Greek, but the anglicised version in increasingly common and less show-offy.

Information design meets gardening

I caught up with Paul Matson at the recent Vision Plus conference in Birmingham. Paul did the MA Information Design at Reading when I was teaching there. He works for the Institute of Physics in Bristol, creating web sites but as a sideline he's created a great gardening concept, Sowhow.

Paul sells organic seeds, packed on information cards that explain how to grow it, store it and cook it. I particularly like the link between garden and kitchen (I'm a fan of Monty and Sarah Don's Fork to Fork, not just for the clever title).

Monday, September 21, 2015

Remember those four year design degrees?

This ad seen in a London underground station makes me wonder why my course had to last four years.

Mind you, someone who came to our recent Simplification Centre summer school commented in his feedback: “I’m pretty sure that I learnt more relevant stuff last week than I did on my whole degree course!”

This may say more about his degree course, but I choose to view it as a compliment to our summer school.

Sticks well

My 95 year old mother asked me to buy her some glue and this is what they sold me. Not really her demographic but it did the job.