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Information Design in the Periphery

10/09/2010

This clock, the Equinox Clock, is very interesting to me. While it looks pretty cool and it’s technically very nifty, the thing that is interesting for me is what it represents. To me, it represents that movement of information from front and center to our periphery.

Personally, I have been thinking about how we can move certain bits of common information to secondary ways of delivery – moving it outside of our areas of focus – an area vastly underutilized in the information design world. Currently, everything we use is designed to be the single point of vision. Cellphones with their small screens are objects of focus. So are laptops, requiring us to peer into the screen and really tune out the surroundings. Even programs themselves are designed for delivering information to only the areas of focus. The only break is the blinking widget.

Human vision is much more than concentrated focus, we are very good at processing the information at the edges of our sight. We pick up movement and can do a fair job of discerning colors, so why are we not using this portion of our vision?

The movement of time can just as easily be recorded (as long as it’s not too precise) by subtleties in our surroundings and without conscious effort. We can see the change in the strength of light from the sun and do a fair job of recording the passage of time from it. The sun has no digital display. Perhaps this Equinox clock is onto something. Perhaps we can stuff other bits of information into the sidelines of our vision to good effect and cut down on the information overload that we are bound to come across in the future.

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