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Two out of three ain’t bad?

February 15, 2010

The thing with my manifestette is that it’s getting all three at once that is the tricky part. This is a project I recently stumbled onto. It’s a compendium of all Van Gogh’s letters with all sorts of information in and around them. It’s simple (the idea: a compendium of Van Gogh’s letters) and super meaningful (i.e. there is so much information* packed in–for each letter you see THREE screens: the letter in English, the letter in Dutch and some meta information) but it’s extremely boring on a visual level. It’s a boring, unengaging layout with boring, unengaging colors, but even beyond that, there’s a missed opportunity there of somehow presenting all this data in a visual way. I guess that’s where designers come in.

This is a perfect website redesign project, in my view.

*I am getting into packing in maximal information from Edward Tufte. He points out that simplifying data and charts makes them suspect and robs them of meaning. Better to pack in graphics with data and make sure they’re still comprehensible on a general level. I.e. graphics that make sense and are of interest zoomed in at 50% and at 400%.

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