Designing with information properties – Lon Barfield

Ask a carpenter about wood and they will talk with eloquence about the different types and properties of wood: ‘Ash is good for splinter-free rake handles. Douglas Fir is stronger than steel. Opepe is ideal for garden furniture, they make sea-defences out of it’.

What if you are a craftsperson, but you work with information? What sorts of information are there? What properties can information have?

In this workshop we will look at taxonomies and the categorisation of information and how this can be used to make design decisions and group elements for display. We will touch on information history with a look at early scripta-continua, and the rise of tabulated information. Then we will deal with real-world contexts (participants will work hands-on with analyses of shopping lists, paper organisation on their desk, their browser bookmarks). Moving on from this we will look at information design contexts such as newspapers and web-sites.

For the second hands-on session, instead of doing ‘yet another web site analysis’ we will be putting the ideas into practice using a different form of column-based information display… cereal packets.

Lon Barfield
Lon Barfield lectures and writes on the subject of technology and people. Currently he is teaching at UWE on the cultural and social impacts of digital technology. Before this he worked at Hewlett Packard Research Labs and The Dutch National Computer Science Labs. He has a joint-honours degree in physics and computer science and a Masters in computer science. He has lectured in industry and on five different Masters courses related to UX and digital media including the OU and the HKU and has written a number of text books on the subject.

He co-founded a web-design company in 1994 in Amsterdam and has freelanced for all sorts of organisations including a small publishing company that had a problem with sheep in the office.