Minimalism in the Information Age
The World Wide Web has been a source of intrigue for me ever since I started working as a Web Designer in early 1995. It propelled me into a new career that was unheard of not only in India but also in other advanced parts of the world. During the years that followed, the world saw the meteoric rise of the Internet. By the year 2000 though, as some Information Technology Pundits had predicted, it came crashing down. Even as Internet companies shut shop, Web Designers struggled to find work after barely a few years into their brand new profession. After what came to be known as the dot-com bust, the Web quickly rose from the ashes as a wiser more matured world. With maturity came bold new professions associated to the online world; Information Architecture, Interaction Design, User Experience became the obvious next-steps for web designers. Some like me, joined institutes like Interaction-Ivrea in Italy that were mushrooming everywhere to teach the new fangled vocations. Relatively older professions like Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Usability came to the rescue of an increasingly complex Web. Web Usability guru Jacob Nielsen became a household name. Better sense finally prevailed online.
Along the way the Web had changed our reading and writing habits and immensely affected the way we gain knowledge. During my studies at Interaction-Ivrea, I did a project that focused on how, as humans we consume information, what aids and what hinders knowledge-gain on the Web. The aim of the project was to investigate alternative ways to stay informed but not be constantly connected to this never-ending source of information. The service design prototype I called MinimalWeb Content Dispatch Services was a design exploration of services as a new interface to the Web and future scenarios for highly selective consumption of information. One of the more important goals it intended to achieve was to combat information overload.
The project followed the well-documented yet fairly new approach of User-Centered Design. Besides a demonstrated prototype of the new age minimalist service, I also submitted a dissertation as part of the thesis requirements. The PDF is available at:
As for Interaction-Ivrea, since its inception in 2001, it has survived a 4-year tumultuous journey as a state-of-the-art academic institution that attracted the best talent from all over the world into its pristine Italian locale. However, from being an autonomous hub for researchers exploring emerging interactive technologies and Interaction Design, it now faces the grim prospect of a takeover by Domus Academy or worse still, closure. But for wannabe interaction designers, options are a plenty. A good starting point is this online resource:http://resources.ixdg.org/