diversification of minds - conversation in processes
design for communities

Tokyo, 07.10 - 09.10 1999

10 09 pm<Mapping Relations>
moderated by Masahiro Horiuchi, Tama Art University, Tokyo, Japan

Information Design and links within communities

The role of Information design is to make incomprehensible information conprehensible. Such information can empower the recipient and become a guideline for further action. According to this definition of information design by Richard Saul Wurman which i quote from memory, information design encompasses a variety of purposes and fields including the creation of cohesive communities.
Modern communities are defined more by shared purposes or values. than by geographical relations.

In former times, religion was a strong community bond. In the contemporary world however, market values have come to dominate our value system, shaping our perception of things. 'More', 'Faster', 'cheaper' -qualities pursued by the majority or those with power, usually at the expense of the minority, or those with less power. Current social and environmental problems such as North-South inequalities can be seen as the result of this clash of differing systems of ascribing values.
If information covering a broader range of citizens values was available to the whole community, the quieter, but equally valid voice of the less powerful could be heard, and their needs and desires attended to. In a spirit of cooperation that is indispensable for communities, networks of community minded people can lessen the damage resulting from such imbalances of power.

In this session, we will examine the potential of information design, illustrated by examples of map design and alternative money design as a means of value exchange within communities.

Design for mapping relations

Ancient maps served as a means to convey certain messages such as imaginative views of the world, or the power of an autocrat. Modern maps, recorded with scientific accuracy and developed into huge databases of Geographic Information Systems, are a mirror of modern society itself. The accumulation of data, devoid of any specific message requires indexing in order to be understood. Multiple layered indexes may be used to properly express the pluralism of modern society.
'Greenmap' created universal map icons to index environment related information, and intends to create new communities by providing people with opportunities to discover relationships with other people, organizations, and places.

Design for value exchange systems

In the market economy, values such as labor, land, interest, or Nature are all reduced to one value system eliminating all other information which does not relate to the market value. Thus it is difficult for consumers to get information about the true cost of a product. The Eco-Money concept could be a useful tool for integrating producers possibilities and consumers needs into a community relationship.
For the 'Citizen's Bank', fair trade between producers in the third world and consumers in the first world, Eco-Money, support of potential entrepreneurs, and the use of information tools such as the Internet and radio LAN system are an important means to develop an alternative value exchange system that does not solely depend on market principles.

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