Anomalies & Curiosities
For a while on election night, I lost sight of the presidential race and had become completely distracted by the information design, or lack thereof, on the cable news networks.
Granted, even the best designer would be taxed to cram so much information into the tiny lower thirds: electoral votes, senate seats, poll closing times, parties, percentages, candidate photos and names, projections, blue/red maps - imagine trying to establish a visual hierarchy there. But still, as I flipped between the big three cable news channels, one of them handled the task beautifully: CNN.
CNN managed to present gobs of data with clarity, and in a friendly, positive tone to boot. Heck, the designer even pulled off a graphical representation of the Senate seats on an arc, in perspective, in just 300 pixels. They were not afraid to leave breathing room - sometimes, a lot of it - on screen. They resisted that weird, broadcast-design compulsion to fill up every last pixel with bevels, gradients and animated background hooey.
In contrast, MSNBC crammed every available space with stuff, much of it meaningless. They indulged in a lot of 3D silliness too, including an animation of something that I assume was the rotunda of the Capital Building, with a floating, virtual, rotating tally board too nauseating to read.
But I thought the worst information design of the night belonged to Fox News. It was a sea of same-sized information that was so unconsidered, I wondered if they had even tried - almost like they had decided, days before, to just pack up their toys and go home.
Look, I know that in two or three years when everyone has smart phones with video and e-mail, we'll look back on Multimedia Messaging with the same kind of nostalgia as floppy disks, LED calculators, and bag phones, but it's a fact of life, that it's still a very popular technology. So out of a dozen image-based messages I've received on my iPhone, I've been able to see exactly two. Two! And I had to do that via a desktop system. I think Apple's plan is to make it so unusable that people just give up in frustration - a clever take on Microsoft's time-tested strategy.
From the left:
Steve as a lame duck
Kory as Dr. Phil
Jeff as drunken, homeless, bank-robber duck
Nate as Sweeney Todd
Rachel as Mrs Lovett from Sweeney Todd
Teresa (behind the camera) as that girl who carved a 'B' into her face and claimed to have been attacked by a political zealot.