Visualizing a New-Media Landscape

Posted inBranding & Identity Design
Thumbnail for Visualizing a New-Media Landscape

When Gold set out to create a new visual identity for Wikia, a hosting service for collaboratively run websites, we realized we were stepping into a new-media landscape where traditional hierarchies of author, editor, and user do not apply. In an old-media landscape things were linear, a 1:1 ratio.

We began by mapping what this new-media landscape looked like. If old media is linear, than a new-media platform is an undulating assembly of original bodies of content. The information blooms and expands, self-generating, like a fractal.

Our initial approach was to get to know the people who form Wikia communities, from the core fans who start a wiki page, to the casual fan who contribute, to the mainstream viewers who land on it. We visualized these relationships radiating outward, expanding beyond the original content to other wikis, and out into the internet.

Using the open-source coding application Processing, we dove into the world of generating fractals. We saw these fractals as neighborhoods built around areas of content, where anyone can edit, create, comment, and participate.

From these neighborhoods, we built a map that became a storytelling device to visualize Wikia’s position in the new-media landscape. Color-coding helped to navigate Wikia’s three content categories: video games, entertainment, and lifestyle. We imagined the gray areas to be the internet, weaving throughout the landscape.

This cartographic representation gave Wikia an identity and a sense of place, whereas it had previously been invisible, and drove a narrative that became the foundation for the visual identity.

This system was applied in stylized fractal treatments and logo variations, where the “k”—highlighted by the brackets—distinguishes the content category.

Through this process, a system was created that can represent Wikia from the micro level of an individual creating a Wikia page to the macro level of the community as a whole.