Principles of Feedback

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Feedback is receiving information about the action that has taken place. A lack of response indicates shaky/poor feedback. The examples we have chosen include the recent Apple maps design, the pinwheel that appears when a Mac is not responding, and the ability of Facebook to send notifications to your account.

Shaky Design Example: Apple Maps

Team Jimmy Examples of Natural Design

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1. We have the natural instinction to walk up or down a flight of stairs. We take advantage of the natural design of stairs, so sometimes when we fall down, it’s the designer’s fault not our clumsiness. There are cases where we are used to the standardized measurement of a flight of stairs, but when the design is altered, we can fall.

The Design of Everyday Things

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Notes from Chapter 1

Natural design: the use of natural signals, naturally interpreted without any need to be conscious of them. (4)

affordances: the perceived and actual properties of the thing, primarily those fundamental properties that determine just how the thing could possibly be used. Affordances provide clues to the operations of things. (9)


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Welcome to English 489/689, Information Design

So that we can get to know each other a little better, please post a reply to this message in which you

  • describe where you are from
  • give your course of study and year in your graduate or undergraduate program
  • talk about your areas of interest and career goals
  • tell what you would like to get out of this course
  • describe one of your favorite books and what you like about it

I'll start. I've lived in the Clemson area for two years now, having arrived as the new Campbell Chair in Technical Communication at Clemson in Fall 2010. I came here from Purdue University, where I was the Director of Professional Writing and Professor of English for ten years. I earned my PhD from the University of Southern California in "Rhetoric, Linguistics, and Literature." My areas of specialization include rhetorical theory, digital and visual rhetorics, print and digital publishing, information architecture and content management, and film theory and production. In 2002 I founded Parlor Press, an independent scholarly press that has now published about 150 titles. Parlor Press also manages production and editorial operations for a number of journals, including WAC Journal, WPA: Writing Program Administration, Composition Studies, JAEPL, and PRE/TEXT. Clemson is the new institutional home of the WAC Journal (see for a story about it or the journal site, Clemson now also hosts KB Journal and The Writing Instructor, both of which are open access scholarly journals. One of my current projects is the development of the (new) Production and Design Studio in the 1941 Studio for Student Communication and an Clemson Book Lab

I'm excited for this course because I've been interested in visual rhetoric for quite a while now and have become fairly experienced with book and page design, graphical illustration, and information architecture (both in print and on the Web). One of the most recent books I've read and liked is Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, which is a dystopian novel about a future virtual world that ends up substituting for the real thing for most people since the actual world is a near wasteland after nuclear holocaust.