These information panels tell a story

How do you organize information? Once you do that, what kind of story does it tell your audience?

I visited The New York Times‘ building yesterday to check out what’s they call the ‘Movable Type‘ display in the lobby. Couldn’t help noticing the new building since my hotel was just a few blocks from this modern steely landmark. (The stunt a few weeks ago gave me even more reason to visit, although the panels were the real draw.) It takes the old idea of lead-based movable type and interprets it for the digital world where type is on the move, in and out of people’s lives.

The fluorescent panels at the Times building are stunning in their simplicity, considering the complex technology behind them. They are constantly being updated with bits of information coursing through the veins of the news organization -snippets of letters to the editor, comments on blogs, obituaries, headlines, search queries, sports results, politics…

For the past few weeks I have been photographing information panels -the analog, the dynamic, the sombre, and the marketing kind. Below are some of them:

Penn Station, New York

The first is at Penn Station, NY, the second is from the Apple store on 5th Avenue, and the third is a section of the panels at The New York Times. Or take this fourth panel, made of granite. It is one section of the highly charged 246-foot Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC.

It is not just a list of fallen soldiers. The names are organized according to the day they lost their lives, with a legend next to each name so that a family member, or someone who served at that time could get a broader story.

The design of the wall itself is rich in meaning. It’s impossible to not be moved when you look at each name and read into it your own version of the story. If you look close, you’ll notice the panel reflects the Washington Memorial.

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