Graphic design history is often taught through styles, or iconic designers and not through the lens of society, culture or the audience of the work. The connect to technological, economic and political contexts is equally, if not more important.
Tschichold responded to economic considerations by standardizing Penguin book covers
Dadaist photomontage was used to protest World War I
Modernists dreamt of universal communication after emerging from war-torn societies
We should stop perpetuating the idea that designers somehow act on culture from outside of it, and instead focus on the complex worlds in which they did their practice.
Web homepages used to be weird hand-made things until blogging and content-management systems like Movable Type came into the picture in 2001. People switched to these systems because they were easier to use, but it meant that everyone got reverse-chronological diaries whether they liked it or not. This trend has continued with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc.
A reverse chronological feed is not the only way that hypertext can be molded, but the early systems have put the web on this trajectory. Other shapes of hypertext like wikis or forums have not remained as popular and don’t have many tools around them either. Even newer shapes of hypertext could still be discovered.
A historic look at the Gujarat and Kerala development models, separated from political biases. The two models have evolved over the last two centuries, and even have some commonalities.
Known to have a market-friendly, growth first approach that aims to raise incomes that would lead to trickle down.
The trading communities in Gujarat — Parsis, Bohras etc — weren’t evangelical and there were fewer Christians here. Thus, there wasn’t much focus on education or health.
The route to prosperity was through business and commerce, not education.
The freedom movement was strong in Gujarat with many important figures coming from here. The people were politically aware, but it didn’t lead to any significant social reforms.
Presently, the citizens who’ve left the state have set up businesses and developed roots in other places. The remittances contribute to ~1% of the state’s GDP.
Known to have a state-led focus on human development parameters like health and education, creating a foundation for economic growth.
Princely states of Travancore and Kochi and the british controlled the region of present day Kerala in the 1800’s. When the Christian missionaries arriived they opened up schools. Seeing this the princely states followed suit and started providing free education. They also focussed on public health and vaccinations.
Travancore introduced private property rights to increase incentive for farming productivity. This led to a budget surplus which was invested in education and health.
Since the royal families were focussed on taking care of their subjects the freedom movement didn’t get a stronghold here. However, there was a focus on social reform for civil rights of the lower castes that was led by the non-varna Hindus.
Presently, even with high HDI scores, citizens leave the state to find opportunities elsewhere, but remittances from them contribute to ~14% of the state’s GDP.
In preperation for my Hampi visit I decided to read a historical account of the Vijayanagar empire. My last history class was seven years ago, so this was a new first lesson.
I was excited after reading the introduction. The city seemed grand and rich in culture but I became uninterested as the book became a chronological documentation from one war to the next. I enjoyed the few breaks that were taken to talk about the architecture and the lives of the common people and wished there were more. The academic tone didn’t bother me and was I amazed when the author himself was doubtful about the certainty of some facts. He had strung together centuries of history by interpreting the chronicles of Fernão Nunes and Abd-al-Razzāq, and the scriptures that were being discovered during the time. He was clear in his distinction between facts and speculations. In contrast, Domingo Paes’ observations were direct, he wrote of what he was shown by the King, and what he was told by his fellows. He even logged details like the prices of common fruits and vegetables. It read like an out of date WikiVoyage entry. Reading this book made me wonder about the accuracy of my school books. Or of any history books. I can never be sure if what is being written is fact, or worse, if its tainted by personal beliefs and propaganda. Amber consoled my skepticism and suggested I read What is History? by E.H. Carr. More books on my reading list, answers to all questions of life soon!