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Essay planning and research



The Digital Human is a radio 4 podcast; host Aleks Krotoski explores the digital world that we belong in. Each episode has a theme in relation to the digital, and several experts are interviewed , usually sharing a unique perspective. The episode I thought had particular significance to my essay is 'Animism'.

Animism definition: noun, the attribution of a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena.

A few quotes that I might use in my essay:

"Hundred of billions of automated systems...The most important question is not how we explain ourselves directly to one another, but what we teach out tools to think of us".

"Vivified with digital spirit"

Paraphrased: Western perspective is we have dominion over nature, technology etc. Japans animism, based on Shinto, says humans are just one in many beings, we're nothing exceptional. 

Galileo allowed a shift from the finite to the infinite. "Finite is diminished, you've also lost control."

"Perhaps here we have a useful distinction between tools and technologies... In that a tool is something which is an immediate extension of its users will. To some degree technology is an indirect extension of its creators will."

"The users are more like tools themselves: swept up by technology, turned into data- manipulated, exploited, kept in the dark."

"We have an almost inexhaustible ability to adapt."

"We are very vulnerable, we will mould our behaviours around the automated systems that dictate the rules of our environments [...] We very quickly risk becoming mere machines ourselves...components in a largely automates system of power."

"Human fits for machine. Machine fits for human." 

"We project our yearnings and our deepest fears. We are looking into an imperfect mirror."

Japanese engineers inspired by animations such as AstroBoy, it informs their world view.




Bryanna Walker analyses Tom Chatfield's, philosopher of technology, work.

'An equal set of "entwined anxieties".

'From the article 'What does it mean to be human in the age of technology?' : the relationship between human and machine, we must resist the urge to let machines take their humanity from them.'

'Humans ned to learn what our end goals are, then we can begin to develop new technology that can be equal and not superior.'

"Crowd in the cloud"

"Human flow" ; 'sense of connection to others in the same web.'

Although not speaking directly about technology in the realm of design communication, Chatfield's words on our reliance on machines can definitely be seen in the design world. 



How can this broad topic of animism link to my essay which centres around design communication? Well, this whole episode reminded me of the shift that David Rudnick expressed; a shift from modernism to ultra reality. Although animism is more of a philosophical/belief system, one can perhaps see the link between western philosophy and modernism, and shintoism and animism. The two dimension or the three dimension. With the introduction of video games, virtual reality, augmented reality; the design communicates this new perspective, one with multiple perspectives, decentralising our experience. 






essya plan.jpeg

A rough structure to order some of the themes and case studies. After the broad focused intro, the first paragraph will focus on how information and tools are more accessible; open source, customisation and user experience. The second para will talk about artificial intelligence within the setting of social media. The third will study virtual reality and how a new way of perceiving will affect design communication. 



I have chosen the question:

How do digital technologies affect design communication?


Platforms / Privacy / Commons (wiki) / Peer-to- Peer / Broadcast / Conversation / Caption / Network / User-generated content

After watching David Rudnick's lecture on the present and future of graphic design, I was inspired to choose this essay question as I feel it imperative to research and scrutinise the technology that is rapidly modifying design and the world we design for. I stumbled upon Singularity, a virtual reality experience exploring how a superhuman intelligence would evolve to make sense of its surroundings. Linking back to Rudnick's statement about the industry's need to reject its modernist ways, Singularity seems to combine not reject; the union of modernism with ultra reality is certainly a step forward. But will we ever lose touch of our roots? And is this ultra reality a think to strive for? What are the consequences? 


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