A random collection of things that inspire, interest and trouble me
from the world of design, politics, art and culture.

Tapestry captions

Posted: June 25th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Tapestries; Their Origin, History And Renaissance by George Leland Hunter

An important feature of many story-tapestries are the captions. In the long, narrow bands of the XIV and XV centuries, they are often on scrolls that frame the personages (See plate no. 329). On many of the immense XV century panels, there are inscriptions at the bottom in Latin or French, with names and other inscriptions in the field of the tapestry. In Renaissance historical and Biblical sets, the Latin captions usually occupied the middle of the top border. In the XVII century, cartouches occupied the middle of the top border and bottom border, the top cartouche carrying a coat of arms or a shadow oval, the bottom cartouche the descriptive caption, with sometimes another inscription in the side border. An extreme example of long inscriptions is Charles V’s Tunis set, with Spanish in the top border, and Latin in the bottom border. On the whole, captions tended to disappear from the panel of tapestries with the approach of the Renaissance, and altogether with the increased dominance of paint style in the XVII century. But a very pleasing feature of Charles Coypel’s XVIII century Don Quixote series are the descriptive captions in the lower part of the panel.


Meaning-making

Posted: June 24th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: dissertation random ideas | Tags: , , | No Comments »

If information design is about meaning-making (see quote below) then if an audience participates in the meaning-making process does it follow that the information will be more successful?

Ways of participating:

  • Interviews (from which a design strategy is devised)
  • User testing (testing of the design within the target audience)
  • Participatory design (engaging the audience in the creation of the document).

This is not any sort of revelation but is a fairly basic description of user-centered design. Would an investigation into documents created in this participatory way reveal anything interesting? Have they been tested for success? Can any conclusions be reached if not?

I am struggling with understanding to what level I have to create original content, as in, can my dissertation just be a collection of other people’s research or should I create my own studies? How the hell would I go about this if so?

Brings me back to the question: what are the gaps in the research? Where can I situated my dissertation so that it provides something worthwhile to the area? Should I be looking to write a dissertation about an area I want to work in after my studies?

My idea that I had during the DD4D conference would probably yield more original thought as I cannot find any material (as yet) on it. I was looking at how captions can aid literacy. A fairly broad theme that could encompass film, TV, print, and online communications. What is a caption and how is it used to aid understanding? How do captions aid meaning-making of texts? Where should they be placed and how should they be designed to maximise understanding without adding confusion to the document?


Captioning for greater access

Posted: June 23rd, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: information literacy | Tags: | No Comments »

During the DD4D conference I was thinking about how captions can be used to help people better understand information. Captions are used in many areas of life such as:

  • television and movie captioning
  • speech bubbles in comic strips
  • captions underneath photographs in documents
  • audio or sign-language captioning on the web
  • hints within computer applications (the floating hint boxes above tools or the talking paper clip)

I thought about human captioning too, so having someone actually provide real-time captions to help people understand something, such as Al Gore in his movie the Inconvenient Truth. Without his presence, the data graphics would have been meaningless.

Captioning can lie, such as the captions placed over photos of Iraq as evidence to go to war. For example here.

What qualities does a caption need to have to be a successful conduit of information? What length, what structure? Where is the best place for it? Should viewers have the option to turn it on or off?

Could captioning help a less literate audience to make more informed decisions?

What qualities does the web have that make captioning successful? What lessons can be learned from print?

Rotha’s flms for Isotype are examples of captioning?

Studies into the effect that captions have on meaning-making. What happens to a picture without an image? What happens to pictorial instructions without sufficient explanation of what is going on in the picture?

Form design. The use of captions throughout a form to aid the form-filler.

Editorial design: the use of photographic captions as a way for readers to navigate a text. Do readers only read the captions? What does that mean for an editorial designer? Should they concentrate on the design and the writing of the captions more? Some tips from Poynter about writing captions here also here. This article explains how the eyes of online readers in a Standford/Poynter study, more often fixated first on briefs or captions. Also here.

What about the history of captions? When did people first start using captions to explain and support the use of images or diagrams? Ask Michael Twyman.

Consider how captions should be written for the sight-impaired for websites. Some information on this here, here, here.

Interesting wiki here about captions and here too.

The National Institute for Captioning (closed captioning) has a history of this particular area.

Comment on captions for sound files on websites from a hard-of-hearing person. More guidelines about this here.

I have always been frustrated with web sites or software or items that do not take account of those with hard of hearing problems. I suggest that all sound files should have an option that allows users to read the transcribed version of the file as a written text or have the option of captions. If these options are displayed along side the sound file icon, it will allow those of heard of hearing to take in the information much more easily and be less likely to mishear or neglect any part of the file. This is especially important in education based products with a new technical lexicon, where taking in new words and meanings at the same time can be difficult.

[slideshare id=962985&doc=media-accessibility-for-the-web-1233174461068694-2]

Gaudellet University has an access program that looks into the use of captions for deaf people. Many useful Links here.