kimberley crofts


an information and communication designer living in London

Ways that people are taught different modes of literacy

French literacy for all forms of handwriting (from Twyman’s class)



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Strategic reading

p240 Pettersson

An active reader makes good use of the structure embedded in the book and in the text.

Moijer (1987) stated that we read in different ways, depending on the purpose of our reading:

  1. We read intensively every word when our purpose demands it
  2. We skim if we only wish to quickly get some idea of the material
  3. We read to orient ourselves if we want to know where some particular information is to be found in a text
  4. We read to inform ourselves when we need certain limited information.

In all of these cases, we leave out anything that does not satisfy the purpose of our reading directly.

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Information Literacy

From Pettersson, R. (2002). Information design: An introduction. Amsterdam.

Doyle (1994) defined information literacy as “the ability to access, evaluate, and use information from a variety of sources”. She created a list of characteristics of an information literate person. An information literate person has information competence, and accesses, evaluates and uses information in a qualified way. An information literate person:

  • Reconizes that accurate and complete information is the basis for intelligent decision making
  • Recognizes the need for information
  • Formulates questions based on information needs
  • Identifies potential sources of information
  • Developes successful search strategies
  • Accesses sources of information including computer-based and other technologies
  • Is a competent reader, evaluates information, and determines accuracy and relevance
  • Recognizes point of view and opinion versus factual knowledge
  • Rejects inaccurate and misleading information
  • Organizes information for practical application
  • Integrates new information into an existing body of knowledge
  • Uses information in critical thinking and problem solving

From Information literacy in an information society: a concept for the information age
By Christina S. Doyle, ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology
Published by DIANE Publishing, 1994
ISBN 0937597384, 9780937597385

See also the Information Literacy Website (UK),

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Newspaper from Kenyan refugee camp

The Hagadera refugee camp in Kenya is one of the largest in the world. Home to 100,000 people, many from Somalia, there is no media and few opportunities for many of the youth living there. On 3 April 2009, the first newspaper was sold in the camp by 26 youth who have spent the past couple of months creating the publication, called Newsletter Hagadera. Link

Filed under: wall newspapers,

Wall Newspapers

Many mainstream newspapers in China post their sheets in displays on the street as a cheap means of reaching a large audience, this is to be contrasted with the postings of public-generated news and opinion.

Dazibao: Big character posters


Reading dazibao (public newspapers). Kunming, Yunnan, China Image: QT Luong

From Wikipedia:

Big-character posters (Traditional Chinese 大字報, Simplified Chinese 大字报, pinyin dàzìbào, literally “big-character report”) are handwritten, wall-mounted posters using large-sized Chinese characters, used as a means of protest, propaganda, and popular communication. They have been used in China since imperial times, but became more common when literacy rates rose after the 1911 revolution. They have also incorporated limited-circulation newspapers, excerpted press articles, and pamphlets intended for public display. A key trigger in the Cultural Revolution was the publication of a dazibao on May 25, 1966, by Nie Yuanzi (聂元梓) and others at Peking University, claiming that the university was controlled by bourgeois anti-revolutionaries. The poster came to the attention of Mao Zedong, who had it broadcast nationally and published in the People’s Daily. Big-character posters were soon ubiquitous, used for everything from sophisticated debate to satirical entertainment to rabid denunciation; being attacked in a big-character poster was enough to end one’s career. One of the “four great rights” in the 1975 state constitution was the right to write dazibao.

Big-character posters sprouted again during the Democracy Wall Movement, starting in 1978; one of the most famous was The Fifth Modernization, whose bold call for democracy brought instant fame to its author, Wei Jingsheng.The Democracy Wall (Chinese: 西单民主墙; pinyin: xī dān mín zhǔ qiáng) was a long brick wall on Xidan Street,[1] Xicheng District, Beijing, which became the focus for democratic dissent. Beginning in December 1978, in line with the Communist Party of China‘s policy of “seeking truth from facts,” activists in the Democracy movement — such as Xu Wenli — recorded news and ideas, often in the form of big-character posters (dazibao), during a period known as the “Beijing Spring“.

An article here which has this picture

cr dazibao

(Reading big character posters, or wall newspapers, during the GPCR)

A modern use here

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History of Living Newspapers

The Living Newspaper is a piece of theatre created to dramatize current events and issues and thereby make them public (Audiohistory). It is thought to have started in Italy with the publication of a Futurist Manifesto by Marinetti that proclaimed that theatre should be “born of improvisation, lightninglike intuition, from suggestive and revealing actuality. We believe that a thing is valuable to the extent that it is improvised, not extensively prepared” (Drain 1995). Interestingly within the same manifesto there is this “It’s stupid to pander to the primitivism of the crowd, which, in the last analysis, wants to see the bad guy lose and the good guy win”. So perhaps Marinetti et al did not exactly have the public in mind!

The tradition of dramatizing the news continued in Soviet Russia where a Communist Party decree brought forth public readings of the news in order to make their propaganda reached those with poor literacy (Casson). The Blue Blouses theatre group produced works in Russia from abotu 1923 to 1927 and performed to over 80,000 people in the first two months of existence (Drain).

From there the idea of the Living Newspaper spread through Germany and Austria and eventually found its way to America through Moreno who produced shows from 1931 that were impromtu dramatizations of the news events of the day. Americans who had seen the Blue Blouse Theatre founded the Federal Theatre Project in 1935: a government-funded scheme that got theatre workers back into work as part of the New Deal’s Work Projects Administration.Unlike Moreno’s work, the Federal Theatre Project pieces were scripted in advance (arendt said that this type of work could not be dashed off in a matter of hours – see Living Newspaper p113).

A communist V.J. Jerome is credited with being the first person to bring the Living Newspaper to Britain. His poem was performed by the Rebel Players in 1935, the same year that the Unity Theatre began. Their work was interesting in the way that the stage was set, at times divided into sections that almost echo the way that modern newspapers are “sectionalized” or chunked into thematic areas such as lifestyle and sport (really need to check this in Chambers see below).

India’s theatre group Jagran (awakening) produced Living Newspapers during the 1960s and 70s as a way to make poor communities more aware of their personal and social rights. They would go into a community and develop a script based on the stories of people living in slums. The topics the theatre pieces covered included indebtedness, dowry; community issues such as civic consciousness, voting rights, maintenance of community water pumps and public toilets. However, top among their priorities was promoting family planning (Democracy and Governance).

There was also a group in Peru called Boal in the late 70s.

Moreno (and others I assume) saw that the involvement of an audience would be a better means of getting an audience engaged in an issue. This is similar to the view of modern social campaigners who see that direct behavioural experience can help change people’s attitudes to a product, service or issue Direct experience (Regan & Fazio, 1977; Fazio & Zanno, 1978)

Ngapartji Ngapartji is similar in approach?

Works to read

Leach, Robert: (1994) Revolutionary Theatre. London: Routledge. (talks about Mikhail Pustynin who said that “news could be made more accessible through dramatisation”)

Bradby, David, and John McCormick (1978) People’s Theatre. London: Croom Helm.

to express in theatrical terms the subjects of the Rosta posters. Terevsat came to Moscow in 1920 and a number of groups were soon to be found performing in streets, factories and stations. Its short sketches, in which music had an important role, drew largely on review, operetta, vaudeville and the tchastuchka (rhymed popular songs with a monotonous rhythm). Initially one major aim of Terevsat was the diffusion of information and it evolved its own forms of Living Newspaper

Twentieth Century Theatre: A Sourcebook Editor : Richard Drain (can access online through the university). Good source for history of the theatre.

Chambers, Colin (1989) The Story of Unity Theatre. London: Lawrence and Wishart.

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Visual Literacy bibliography

Visual Rhetoric

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Knowledge through engagement

The Tactic of Tracing Design Issues: Volume 25, Number 1 Winter 2009

As a tactic, tracing takes on dual meanings. First, tracing is a following back to what Dewey calls “the origins of an issue.” Inherent in tracing is the activity of revealing, of exposing the underlying structures, arguments, and assumptions of an issue. Second, tracing is an activity of “mark-making.” To trace is to follow and record the presence and movement of an artifact, event, or idea. Within the context of the construction of publics the tactic of tracing can be defined as the use of designerly forms to detail and communicate, and to make known, the network(s) of materials, actions, concepts, and values that shape and frame an issue over time.

Communication design, inclusive of information and graphic design, is the most immediate place for locating the tactic of tracing within established design fields. Popular authors such as Tufte and Wurman have highlighted the pervasiveness of communication design in contemporary society; and scholars such as Buchanan, Kauffer, and Tyler have examined the rhetorical strategies and uses of communication design. The tactic of tracing builds upon these discussions and activities, adapting them toward the construction of publics and, in the process, opening them to new contexts and effects. More specifically, the tactic of tracing is characterized by the use of designerly forms to creatively express the histories, discourses, and techniques that constitute an issue; in ways that foster knowledge through engagement. Increasingly, these forms reach beyond the common artifacts of communication design. In this way, tracing both connects with and extends contemporary design, particularly the areas of participatory and service-oriented practices that embrace forms of engagement and exchange beyond the traditional object.

The project Zapped by the collective Preemptive Media is a striking example of the tactic of projection. In part, it is striking because it exemplifies the ways design tactics are being used effectively, even furthered, outside of what we might commonly think of as a design project, thus reinforcing the notion of a tactic as an adjustment to, appropriation, or manipulation of design products and processes. As a collective, Preemptive Media is more aligned with art than design. However, the work of Preemptive Media demonstrates the blurring of contemporary practices between art and design, particularly in the context of socially-engaged work. This blurring results in a productive confusion between art and design in that it makes it easier to exchange forms, methods, and effects. Such exchanges are particularly fruitful to design, because arts practices and discourse have made much more significant inroads into the issues and sites of the public over the past several decades than has been witnessed within design.

…But in a more nuanced fashion, we can consider them [design tactics] designerly because they make an issue known by making it experientially accessible (K: particularly the case for the Living Newspapers)

…Given that tactics are designerly means for the identification and articulation of issues; such that they might be known enough to enable a public to form around them; a central concern is to discover what forms of expression are most appropriate and compelling for the those people and institutions the tactic is intended to communicate with.

Suggestions for study:“How and how well are designerly forms employed to make known the network of histories, discourses(s), and techniques that shape and frame an issue over time?” and “Were structures, arguments, and assumptions of a given issue newly revealed and made more accessible?” Beyond review and appraisal of individual projects, answering the question of “How” would reveal shared rhetorical devices and themes employed toward the construction of publics, which could be further critiqued and assessed across projects and subject matter.

Another course of assessment would be to ask if the form of expression was appropriate to the audience.

Assessing the effect of design tactics is particularly important in determining what “works” and what counts as “working” (i.e., how do we know that a specific intervention or engagement has had an effect, or what effect it has had).

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Current Living Newspaper theatre projects

C&T Theatre projects:

The Living Newspaper: Re-inventing documentary drama in the age of YouTube, C&T’s own brand of Living Newspapers turn your students into Citizen Journalists researching, reflecting and articulating their responses to the changing world of which they are a part.

St Bride’s Printing Library did a Living Newspaper project in 2008

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