Great discussion on more than one level. Love youse guys.
Otherwise if I wrote "f**k" everything after that would be in bold
some would call that a feature :)
the curmudgeons in the front row
they're just trying to read the slides :)
They were close to the front so that they could which Auckland School Tie the presenter was wearing.
David, I'd call a valve 'electronics' (as I think the pioneers did, although I don't have a reference for the date of coinage). First diode was 1904, crude triodes* came along shortly after in 1907, so within ten years of the basic discovery. (Although De Forest didn't really understand the physics).
* For younger players, these work like a MOSFET, only bigger and hotter. You'll find them in guitar amps and expensive hi-fi.
There should have been time to set up a clean, professional default font, and get someone to cast an eye over it to tidy up the heavy boxes and clashing colours.
What about using the CERN house standard? New Zealand's CRI's have certainly spent time over the years developing style guides, selecting fonts and colour schemes, engaging design consultants to refresh and road-test them with stake-holder focus groups, rebranding, creating templates for presentations, brochures, posters and umpteen different types of reports etc etc.
Perhaps that's why we didn't discover this particle thing first?
There was, of course, a greater crime: Gianotti was using the perennial whipping-boy of every font geek on the planet -- Microsoft Comic Sans.
Inspired Microsoft product placement?
Scott Yorke, as usual, is on to it.
...the communication of such a historic discovery was being done via an almost illegible visual presentation.
And welcome to my life.
It's not just physicists who have this problem... I have sat through illegible presentations by two Nobel Laureates honoured for work in the most inherently visual of the biological sciences - structural biology.
I think that once you're operating at that level, font choice just isn't one of the questions you spend your working day grappling with...
Great discussion on more than one level. Love youse guys.
Twenty-plus years ago Marcus Lush was lamenting on his weekly Campus Radio talkback spot how, despite being on a university station, no-one was able to provide informed comment on Pons & Fleischmann's claims of cold fusion. Just the usual bunch of mumbling North Shore schoolboys lining up to slag hip hop and praise the latest Police Academy flick.
over a drink sometime we shall discuss how that was different but a few years earlier..
I don't care what anyone else thinks, but I am still quite keen on the idea of cold fusion. It maybe could be just around the corner, and solve all sorts of problems.
PS I also like Comic Sans. And use it a lot as it is very good for a diverse audience. Sometimes I apologise and people look at me puzzled. When I don't they glare disdainfully.
The enlightened leaders did on our behalf and the scientists proved they could be trusted.
Which is an important point because it highlights the fact that in the main scientists are indeed trustworthy. Perhaps not because they are better people in any way but because they really just want to use the money to find out stuff and they would rather spend the money on reagents than on flying business class.
Which raises the question of why we demand such extremes of reporting by scientists to the funding bodies ... reports that mostly are rarely read and even less often understood by the funding agencies.
It really is true that you could get far better value for money (from science) by not wasting time and money on the oversight process.
And the fact it was predicted long before it was seen just makes it better.
I think I'm at indulgent-and-or-wistful-sighing point over the slides, but for mine the font choice isn't the problem with that slide compared to... every other design choice. It is rather like (per David's suggestion) they were trying to make the content hard to get at. And in form=content terms it doesn't help the whole 'absent-minded professor' thing. Still, it wasn't exactly fatal: the presentation seemed to go fairly well overall, yes?
I wonder how the Big Bang Theory* will cover it?
*TV comedy about physicists for those who haven't discovered it - had Steven Hawking on a recent show.
Anybody posted this yet?
let me guess, Facebook..
However they must have been downright impossible to read from even a few rows back. Good communication design is a valuable skill just like herding particles and crunching numbers.
Ok, now I've seen a LOT of slides in seminars, dating from when they were actually slides. And I've seen a LOT of posters at conferences, trying getting to over 1000 posters while juggling 6 concurrent sessions is a skill.
And I've seen some beautiful slides and some beautiful posters.
But at tea break and in the weeks after a conference nobody talks about the gorgeous colour palette, or the great use of a theme on the poster and how they stayed under the ideal 200 word limit for text that the marketing dept recommends. Instead people will be gathered around a poster which was printed in 12 point times on A4 sheets with a couple of excel (or R) graphs and a photo of a plant that is. just. so. exciting ...
Sure it's nice when great data and great science are presented well. But no scientist cares terribly much when ideal presentation is sacrificed because they need to put 4 more graphs on a slide to prove the point.
However, if your data is ... well ... average ... and fundamentally boring, you better make the effort to make it easy to read.
TLDR No scientist in that room gave a shit how the data was presented.
I am a fan of plain black on white for that sort of stuff, trust me.
And the audience was not just the ubergeeks in the room - or they shouldn't have done such a great publicity tease campaign beforehand.
Not a universal problem either. NASA's public material is hardly cutting-edge design, but it's always clean, consistent and easy to read - and puts the focus where it deserves to be, on the awesome content.
But we do expect them to have the professionalism to know their limits and call in help.
Actually they probably know that if they use the marketing dept for help it will involve a lead time of at least 4 weeks and they will be forced to check every single character the marketing group produces because the marketing group have no idea what the little squiggly bits mean and frequently substitute something more visually pleasing.
If you think that is me being hyperbolic I'm not. This is my own personal experience and I've heard much the same from my colleagues around the world.
The reason we do it ourselves, with varying degrees of success, is because the marketing folks just can't. And yes you are right we should have better marketing people but frankly Sachi buys for the good ones out from under us, except for a few oddballs who for some reason like being paid crap to be good at marketing of science.
hard to read fonts improve learning
there is also a study that recently showed that people asked to read a paragraph written in ALLCAPS were less likely to accept dogma or were more critical in their thinking than people who read the same paragraph in normal font.
Again the inference drawn was that the effort required to read the more difficult font stimulated their critical thinking.
The reason we do it ourselves, with varying degrees of success, is because the marketing folks just can’t. And yes you are right we should have better marketing people but frankly Sachi buys for the good ones out from under us, except for a few oddballs who for some reason like being paid crap to be good at marketing of science.
I wonder if Peter Griffin at the SMC might be interested in pursuing this. As I noted in the post, it's like the forgotten element of science communication.
Especially when you can go to something like Webstock -- which, sure, is in part a design conference -- and see simply superb visual presentations of technical content.
Not a universal problem either. NASA’s public material is hardly cutting-edge design, but it’s always clean, consistent and easy to read – and puts the focus where it deserves to be, on the awesome content.
Yes. Good comparison. It's not actually any harder to make information easy to absorb.
New Zealand’s CRI’s have certainly spent time over the years developing style guides, selecting fonts and colour schemes, engaging design consultants to refresh and road-test them with stake-holder focus groups, rebranding, creating templates for presentations, brochures, posters and umpteen different types of reports etc etc.