The Hyperactive Paperback

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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Before you all left for an enjoyable weekend of reading design textbooks and flipping through the pages of consumer design magazines (and otherwise luxuriating in design and its offshoots), I wrote about Adam Michaels and Jeffrey Schnapp’s supplement to their important book The Electric Information Age Book. Well, I’m back to tell you that the small (or pocketbook), jam-packed, information-filled paperback theme continues. I even wrote a rare blurb for Ruben Pater’s (author of Double Standards, the Drone Survival Guide and Behind the Blue Screen) enlightening book The Politics of Design: A (Not So) Global Manual for Visual Communication.

“Ruben Pater’s unpacking of the politics that underscores most design is a 21st century companion to Quentin Fiore and Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message and War and Peace in the Global Village.”


I did not write the following but it is apt:

With communication comes responsibility; are designers aware of the meaning and impact of their work? An image or symbol that is acceptable in one culture can be offensive or even harmful in the next. A typeface or color in a design might appear to be neutral, but its meaning is always culturally dependent. If designers learn to be aware of global cultural contexts, we can avoid stereotyping and help improve mutual understanding between people.

This anthropological and sociological look—covering all or many of the consequences of everyday design activity—is a philosophic-visual study that’s just about everything I want in a 21st-century design text. And that it’s also compact enough to fit in the pocket with my new iPhone 6s is a nice bonus.

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →