“Singapore is the next big expat spot.”
One of the nicest aspects of EVOE, besides the amazing food, is the shared sense of experience as you sit at the bar watching the chefs prepare your dishes. Sometimes it is simply an acknowledgement between strangers that
the plate they ordered is ‘the best yet’. But sometimes, it turns to a greater conversation, a discussion of past food experiences that leads to personal history.
In this case our neighbor at the bar was also on a date night, and as we compared notes on children we learned that they had been expats in Germany. We talked a little about this; about the gift it is to explore different cultures and environments, and they went on the give the above quote.
“Would you ever want us to move to Singapore for work?” I asked my husband. His answer was uncertain. He has spent time there and knows it can be hot and crowded. And while he likes food, he doesn’t really love Asian flavors.
Still, there is something compelling about being so close to the center of action in our world; and especially about being there with children… exposing them to a culture that is driving the future.
Our dinner neighbors and my husband also felt it would be nice to be able to afford a personal housemaid. Me personally…. not so much. I hate to clean, but would find it difficult to have someone live with me and not feel the need to take care of theminstead of letting them care for us.
On the other hand, I wonder how much writing I could get done if I had someone else to help shop, clean, prepare meals, even pick my daughter up from school. It is, of course, a trade-off. Those little things also help me to
be a better writer. And besides… how on earth would I find my overhears without understanding what was being said around me.
So for now, I think we will continue to enjoy our gentle life here… pushing our daughter’s boundaries by bringing her back to EVOE and actually making her eat something other than the bread and butter she insisted on last time.
“It’s weird… there are the people that choose design and then there are the people that end up in design because they, like, failed architecture and stuff.”
For the longest time in my life if someone said the word design to my brain would go to either architecture or the concept of form vs. function. It wasn’t until after my MBA when I began to build business cases for websites that
I learned about Information design.
It makes me wonder how that person who was speaking in my overhear would compare this type of design. Would they say that people who can’t write go into informational design? If so, I would have to argue. Because, from the little I know of this discipline, it is at least as important, if not more important, than writing itself.
A useful article, Information Design: The Understanding Discipline, written by Dirk Knemeyer reveals the complexity of this important discipline. Here is a quote explaining its relevance:
“Information design is the integrator that brings other disciplines together to create excellent information solutions… There are meaningful groups within graphic designers, writers and information architects that all make some claim to the term information design. Typically, disciplines are easy to define in at least a basic tactical way. Graphic designers provide visual solutions. Writers provide written solutions. Information architects provide structural design solutions. Information design ostensibly comes down to a broad set of information deliverables, not any single type or particular component of other disciplines.”
So, for example, information design would suggest that I first need to clearly understand the purpose of my blog and then build the structure, look and feel, and even content around it. As such, the comments tool would be considered part of its’ design; as would pictures I use, links I create, sound /movie bytes I use, the formatting of my content and even the topics I write about. All of this and more go into a well designed information setting.
You can see then, that while critically important, using this discipline is complex and difficult. At the same time… the more we know as writers about how to make this happen, the better we will be able to take advantage of the new digital platform for presenting our material. A great example of this is a book written by Ryan Chin, Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows.
He has successfully used interactive media to engage readers in his topic of New Zealand by allowing them to link out to video about his topic.
But, just like less is sometimes more when it comes to graphic design, this can also be true with information design. Many publishers are talking about how to use interactive tools in children’s books. Here I think care should be taken. The starting point for the book should always be the purpose of the information. If it is to entertain, than directing kids to fun tools works. If it is to encourage reading the same tools might distract from the goal.
The best thing we can do, then, as writers, is to clearly understand our informational purpose for what we are writing and then to be open to the many ways to affect it; be it the written word or a home-made movie. While a house without design may live for years, if the kid’s bedroom is open to the living room, no one will ever want to buy it. In the same way at some point I believe it won’t be enough to simply write a story, even a good one. We will need to present that story with the best possible design in order to sell it.
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