The essays that I chose to read by Michael Bierut were: I Am a Plagiarist, I Hate ITC

Michael Bierut

Garamond, Information Design and the Placebo Effect, How to Become Famous and Vladimir Nabokov: Father of Hypertext, but I am only discussing the following three:


I Am a Plagiarist

I found what Michael Bierut had to say about being a plagiarist very interesting and very true. His essay kind of makes me not want to study or read various articles regarding things that I am interested in, in fear that they may influence some of my work in the future.  Basically, admiration or interest can subconsciously become plagiarism.

Left: Page from 12 T y p o graphical Interpretations, Willi Kunz (1975) Right: Poster for the Yale School of Architecture, Michael Bierut's (2005)

I believe some people intentionally plagiarize, but there is always the chance that our subconscious memory can recall things that we have come across in the past. I have seen so many movies with the same plot and sometimes some of the same lines (which we call “cliché”, but is this not plagiarism as well?). Honestly, no matter what idea you come up with someone has thought of it before…there is nothing new under the sun.

I Hate ITC Garamond

ITC Garamond

It’s good to be passionate about what you do in life, but I will never understand the utter disdain or giddy love that designers have for fonts. I just don’t get it. I have come to the conclusion that this is just a passion that I will never understand. I’m a visual person, and I do believe some type just fit some situations better than others. I wouldn’t use a font like Comic Sans in a grim poem about death. I guess I would have to concede to the fact that there is some power in typeface, because it does conjure up memories or visuals for people (which I know it’s supposed to). But, comparing it to dog poop seems a little extreme to me. Oh well, I have my likes and dislikes in life so who am I to judge…right?

Information Design and the Placebo Effect

Well, just about everything in life can have a placebo effect; I never really thought about

New York crosswalk

information design in that way. I rarely use crosswalk buttons (mainly because I’m a germaphobe), but I do believe that they actually work…in some places.  Here at Elon, they work. In New York City, not so much.  The reason I believe that would not work in New York is because you have so many of them and they are just not a priority to the Department of Transportation.  I would think that after using them for so long you would realize if they were actually working or not (not unless you just happen to be lucky enough that EVERYTIME you pressed the button, the light changed). After a while you would have to take notice that it has been 15 minutes since you pressed the button and the light is STILL reading “DON’T WALK”. I think in this case the placebo effect is not in effect, instead you’re just mindlessly going on about your business and not paying attention to the things around you.

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