Investigating and Intervening

Session 1 — An Assortment of Toys and Teamwork

As I stepped into day 2 of Grad School, the Communication Design studio was an insightful session that involved playing around with different types of toys, working in teams to get to know our classmates better and deciphering and organising data to form meaningful groups.

The Toy Story — Deducing the Nature and Behaviour of Toys

Session 2 — Investigating News Sources

As a part of the initial steps of investigating news sources, I selected two varied sources — The New York Times and the Times of India (World News).

The New York Times

The Grid Structure of the New York Times

2.The Times of India

The Grid Structure of the Times of India

3. Mother Jones

The Grid Structure of Mother Jones

Design Shapes the World or Does the World Shape Design?

Session two of the Communication Design Studio delved into concepts understanding how behaviours, social systems and contexts play a vital role in shaping design. The illustrative approach suggests that design or the context for a certain design solution is shaped by society while the formative approach puts forward the idea of how design shapes the society. The illustrative method cites examples of how design is born off a necessity and it is the society that highlights the need for the solution. The school of thought that aligns itself with the formative aspect portrays design as a means of improving and enhancing one’s lifestyle.

Layouts at a Glance
Factors and Actors Controlling the News

Session 3 and 4 — Digging Deeper

Having analyzed the three news sources based on their tone, brand positioning, visual language and the content, I decided to explore more audience-oriented aspects such as the history — how the news brands came into being, people’s perception of the sources, the investors, the specific regions they cater to and to draw a correlation between all these factors.

1. The New York Times

History
- Owned by the New York Times Company
- Founded by the Ochs — Sulzberger family

2. The Times of India

History
- Owned and managed by the Times Group
- Also owned and published by the BCCL (Bennett, Coleman Co & Ltd) which is owned by the Jain family

3. Mother Jones

History
- Conceived as a magazine in 1976
- Named after the Mary Haris Jones, an Irish-American trade union activist, socialist advocate and child labour activist
- Initially appointed an editorial board and the board members took turns to serve as the Managing Editor for a one year term period
- Current CEO — Monika Bauerlein, Clara Jeffery is the Editor in Chief
- Mother Jones is published by the Foundation for National Progress

Moyer’s Sketch Techniques
Perception Measure Map

Session 5–Design Jam

The session began with our teams being formed to work towards an intervention idea. I was bunched in a group with Chris and Minkyoung so that we could brainstorm further and deduce the role of perception between the various forms of news and the audience.

The assortment of objects on Figma
The Expectation and Reality Cycle
  • Image 1 depicts an expectation and reality scenario where one would expect the couple to pay attention to their newborn. The pram indicates the presence of a baby, while in reality, it turns out to be the family’s pet dog. The green-hued background is synonymous of the family spending quality time outdoors.
  • Image 2- A woman making a business presentation is taken seriously because of the nature of her work. The data she collates in an analytical form, the professional outfit she dons and her accessories add to her persona. A symbolic star is portrayed as mnemonic to represent the energy and balance she brings in. The corporate blue sets the mood and context and renders the composition complete.
  • Image 3 - A young woman is seen chilling and catching up with social media updates at the end of a tiring day at college. While one may assume so based on her lazing posture and her lack lustred demeanour, this is our first attempt at drawing an onlooker’s attention to the fact that she could actually be researching important information. The circle is symbolic of people’s perception of a void or lack of productivity. The casual pink marks her state of mind as perceived by a passer-by.
  • Image 4 - Similarly, a bunch of students chatting away could be mistaken for a bunch of students using their mobile to look up a research document. The crowding of the teenagers and their interaction with the phone could be mistaken for a casual, frivolous talk after class. The colour grey aids in depicting the oblivious yet complacent mood of the composition. The idea is central to the judgement a viewer might pass on, looking at the scene.
  • Image 5 - A middle-aged man is taken aback by the representation of news in a card-based format in the newspaper. Something seems amiss as the man tries decoding the analytical data portrayed in a strange format. Does he believe that the news is not accurate owing to its changed visual structure? Or has he absentmindedly stumbled upon a post that he can just browse through on social media? Surely this is an amalgamation. The dull yellow adds to the man’s sense of confusion.
  • Image 6 is the culmination point where the two contrasting scenarios are reckoned worthwhile and that there's more than meets the eye.

Session 6 and 7 — Heading to the Destination

Takeaways from Lynch — Image of the City
- An example of perception with respect to the physical environments
- Classification as path, edges, districts, nodes and landmark
- Translation of these physical entities in communication design

The Design Intervention

The team consisting of Aashrita Indurti, Christopher Costes and Minkyoung Lee

Information Architecture
Intervention Idea
Right: Article stripped of its content Left: Article with partially revealed formatting as the reader moves down the page

Conclusion

From all our research, we spun together multiple analysis that might very well offer shifts to a more preferable society, one their is more accepting and open. While we are not attempting to truly solve the many wicked problems of news consumption, we are trying to understand the role format might play in this wicked problem. The potential outcome of our approach is that the user suddenly becomes aware of how different their news reading sources are without all the formatting. This could then allow them to see the bias and limitations they build around themselves when reading from only one source or not bother to explore sites they believe are outside their information gathering.

Introduction of the intervention — Advertisement on Digital Platform

Learning Outcomes and Reflection

The previous project of investigating the news incorporated the two parts of going about the entire task. The first part comprised of individual research that helped me dive deep and understand the various visual components of the media supported by the readings that helped me draw specific conclusions and translate abstract ideas and analogies into more definite ones. Moyer’s diagrams introduced me to a whole new method of representing ideas that would help a user grasp concepts on the go. The study of visual elements, their connotation supported by the denotations and their significance based on the higher systems at play — stakeholders, factors and actors and political inclination formed the basis of my research.

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Aashrita Indurti

Aashrita Indurti

Interaction and Service Designer | Graduate Student at the School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University