the kdmcinfo weblog

What has art got to do with it?

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City has posted an amazing exhibition. Design and the Elastic Mind "focuses on designers' ability to grasp momentous changes in technology, science, and social mores, changes that will demand or reflect major adjustments in human behavior, and convert them into objects and systems that people understand and use."

The online exhibit includes work by Adrian Holovaty who did the ground-breaking Chicago Crime site. There are actually 14 different map mashups, and several dozen interesting approaches to visualizing information. Take some time to explore this visual, mental and intellectual feast.

So what? 

The exhibition is kind of interesting and, of course, the map mashups have application to journalism. But there is more here...much more. There are several critical points about this exhibit that broaden my strategic vision of how news organizations can serve readers. 


  •  While the information firehose blasts us all, our home and our community are still the reference point for our lives. Helping readers pick out the key bits of information that have local impact is a big task and a huge service.
  • Information and the presentation of information is a whole new domain for the newsroom. This exhibit points the way to a new field in journalism... information design. With the new tools and techniques demonstrated in this exhibit we can see that excellent visualization is critical to opening new insights into important concepts. News organizations that can serve readers with this level of information service will benefit.
  • "One of design's most fundamental tasks is to stand between revolutions and life, and to help people deal with change." This is also a role that news organizations must take seriously.
  • News organizations that are in the midst of layoffs, dramatic drops in market capitalization, and now entering a major recession that will even further reduce revenue are in no position to explore information design in any depth. The profession of journalism needs a world-class Research and Development Lab to develop and showcase new tools and techniques that will enable publications around the world meet 21st Century audience needs.