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Suppose your life a folded telescope
Duration less, collapsed in just a flash
As from your mother’s womb you, bawling, drop
Into a nursing home. Suppose you crash
Your car, your marriage — toddler laying waste
A field of daisies, schoolkid, zit-faced teen
With lover zipping up your pants in haste
Hearing your parents’ tread downstairs — all one.
Einstein was right. That would be too intense.
You need a chance to preen, to give a dull
Recital before an indifferent audience
Equally slow in jeering you and clapping.
Time takes its time unraveling. But, still,
You’ll wonder when your life ends: Huh? What
We know your secret.
It’s happened now,
2020 is over.
We know that you wanted it, DON’T LIE TO US.
Yeah okay, we wanted it too. 2021 IS HERE
Okay now what.
Reading Time: 4 Minutes
Figure 1: System map by design students.
Neat, geometric, abstract.
Figure 2: A system map by rural adolescents.
Rich, Layered, More-than-Human.
But their teammates from the villages revealed their own form of visual communication and thinking. As the figure 2 shows, it was not merely a different form of representation that somehow seems more direct, but revealed a radically different form of thinking that was in fact deeper than any system designer with an M.Des degree could ever imagine. For the adolescents from the villages, the grazing lands at the edge of the forest were a key-stakeholder as grazing gave them privacy to engage with the self-produced media or card games, without any interference from adults. The map they drew shows a world-view that highlights the key role that the grazing lands play in the system they envisioned. And I wonder what aspects of color theory, gestalt’s principles, layout grids, and type kerning did they learn to not only represent so richly but also to imagine in complex more-than-human ways? And who taught them these? The universal claims of design thought leaders about the primacy of Euro-centric visual design principles and theories fall apart at such moments, which designers keep encountering if rightly oriented, given the rich, heterogeneous country we are.
I believe it is time we question the origins of what we assume as ‘good design’ skills and abilities, particularly as we go digital and explore if and how we can align with the multiple, and often conflicting worldviews of the audiences we are designing for. A way towards such an exploration is to shift from designing for to designing with. It is a challenge that DesignBeku, a collective that I am a part of, has been engaged with. Our work in response to Covid-19 has reinforced my position about how good visual communication is much beyond what is generally taught at design schools.
When faced with a design-thought-leader proclaiming some universal importance about an aspect of design, the question I ask is: What structures of global design education and practice make the aspect—whether it is Color Theory, Gestalt’s principles, Flat / Material Design, or devices having no headphone jacks—fundamental and universal?
1. Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s advice to “anyone trying to discern what to do with their life”. Its a great opener to Hank Green’s insightful ramble which we feel is worthy of your attention right now.
2. If you made any resolutions this year, you definitely want to read about these five perspectives on Procrastination (maybe later, eh?). Edgar Allan Poe was a proud procrastinator, or as he says, “I am excessively slothful, and wonderfully industrious—by fits.”
3. As long as we’re on the topic of points of view, check out this piece on Windows as an existential tool; because what’s January without a little existentialism?
We came across this beautiful graphic online essay on newsletters, forgotten RSS feeds, content monetization and making the web easy and accessible again. This might also encourage you to subscribe to some fantastic people on Substack, like Letters of Note, Culture Study by Anne Helen Petersen and an interview on keeping up with newsletters.
Hi! I’m Divya.
Art for me as a kid was going to various summer camps, trying to make things with weird materials. It was around then that my parents put me into an art class where I started playing around with watercolours and later oil paints. Even though there was a point where I didn’t make any art for a couple of years, the grueling year of 10th grade made me reach out to my brushes and paints, and they’ve kept me company ever since. I’ve always been more inclined towards traditional mediums of art like painting and I’m also absorbed by forms like tie & dye, paper making, bookbinding, and most recently, printmaking. I’ve questioned myself quite a lot of times about why my major is DMA, but what I’ve come to realise (after countless ted talks with my closest friends) is that it’s okay to have different interests and that you can enjoy working digitally just as much as you enjoy work with materials and getting your hands messy. I’ve only recently ventured into digital art, and like anything else, it takes time and practice to get used to. Though it is a whole lot of fun with all the experimentation you can do.
When I continued painting in 10th, my first instinct was to paint skies and florals. I find that these things somehow find a way in most of what I make, especially the latter. For the longest time, this bothered me and still does sometimes, since you know, context and all that. But I’m slowly starting to see what it adds to my work. Sometimes I feel like it brings about a sense of calmness or reassurance? And we could all do with a bit of that now and then 🙂
Reading Time: 4 Minutes
TL;DR: I’ve broken the hearts of hundreds of kids around the world by making them think I would send them to Hogwarts, and I’m going to share what they ha to say with you.
My attention span, however, was poor. Life went on and I quite forgot about all of these. When I say I forgot, I mean I even forgot the URLs of the blessed things. So they lay on Weebly’s servers, forgotten and abandoned. But something peculiar happened. Starting in 2016, my form on my Hogwarts website started receiving submissions.
Starting in 2016, my form on my Hogwarts website started receiving submissions. First, it was two a month, then 10 and sometimes even 50. In 2017, I started reaching my monthly limit of 100 submissions every month. The website didn’t have much, other than the Wufoo form I had set up. Once you entered your email, you’d be sent ‘your acceptance letter’ like so:
For some reason, people were finding a website I had myself forgotten about. I don’t know why, maybe there is a backlink to it from a popular blog, maybe it was showing up on Google for some keyword search, maybe it was just by chance. Whatever it was, it was getting me traffic and submissions from kids who believed that this was the real Hogwarts website (despite the .weebly.com subdomain and Wufoo branding). I started getting emails asking me how would they come if they were in Sri Lanka, how they could purchase their books, what the price of admission was, or they described the problems of them not having an owl or that their parents hadn’t permitted them to attend a school that taught witchcraft. These weren’t spoof emails either, as I found out after I started replying to them. These were kids, all between the ages of 10-14 (and some outliers), who were convinced that they had finally got their tickets.
I’ve gotten used to reading these emails now. Sometimes I write back to them personally, sometimes it’s a standard response (This is a fansite blah blah, continue your Muggle education), sometimes I mess around with them if I feel like they’re up to it. Some email threads have gotten as long as 12 emails long. I used to share random screenshots of them with my friends because some of them are genuinely funny, but a few days ago, my brother told me I should compile them into a proper place, once and for all.
Here, you can browse through a small selection of the hundreds of emails I’ve received. Some of my favourites have been added in the ‘Top Picks’ page, but I’ll add them here as well:
And lastly, Neeharika, who asked me if magic was real. I liked writing that email, give it a read.
I would love it if you went through the website for yourself. Till date, I’ve had 2032 entries and counting, and I get an average of 20 signups a day. I haven’t been able to replicate this kind of engagement since then, no matter how much SEO work or marketing strategies I apply.
I wish I had an epiphany or a takeaway from this entire project to share with you, but I don’t (other than the fact that these silly websites paved way for the one you are on right now).
The Internet, and life, works in weird ways and that’s all there is.
Tales From the road begrudgingly traveled :
a comic in ten parts.