Educated as artists and graphic designers, trained primarily in the logics of print and haptic output, we have grown a great interest in how a transition to screen publishing, and the formats of the new media, affect the way we write, read and communicate. What are the new contracts between author and reader? How are they shaped by old and new forms, and how do new habits in writing and reading affect the way we build and share knowledge?
So far, even in an online world, the main application of authorship is linear writing--the bringing of information into a sequence--a line following the logic of written language. The result is following the structure of a timeline. These texts normally translate the process of thought and of reasoning into a sequence of cause and effect; there is a development in linear story, that we as readers can easily follow. In a time where books and documents were the main carriers of text, the environments for writing and reading looked very similar. The guiding voice of the author, his narrative, was made obvious to the reader in his linear path.
Now, as reading happens more and more on screen, the fragmented reading is greatly accelerated. This is a process we know from moving between passages in books and documents, but on screen these movements are not only possible, but rather encouraged, mainly though the use of hyperlinks, placed there to grab our attention. Further, digital media gives us a lot of freedom to move between texts; search functions and filters help us to find exactly the piece of information we are looking for. In effect, each step on the path is provided by algorithms and keywords, and our guide on the way is our own goal.
As we skip and jump from one fragment to the next, the authors’ thoughts get ripped out of context. We target and devour fragments with minimal background information. This new reading doesn’t build on logical, causal strings of thoughts. A web is shaped; an assemblage of information lacking a clear sense or meaning, as we can only focus on one fragment at a time. These individual fragments, or steps, don’t have relation to each other, since they are not aware of where the reader comes from, or where he will go next.
With Lines, our take on this problem is to bring authorship closer to reading. While reading habits are rapidly developing, the creation of texts hasn’t changed much since the typewriter, and there is a lot left to be explored in this area.
We are convinced that in order to bring sense and meaning to a fragmented screen-reading, the visual representation--not only of information, but of the relation between different pieces of information--has to take a stance. As graphic designers, we will have to take on the role of the guide, cultivating new forms and structures, fit for a new medium and new habits. The evolution of information sharing is strongly driven by technology; old standards fuelled with new kinds of speed and efficiency. Perhaps it’s time for a new strategy. Perhaps it’s time for the graphic designer to cultivate new forms and patterns for communication, and possibly new ways of thinking.