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Wordle + $19 Dollar Logos: The End of Graphic Design

November 18, 2009

Wordle is a website that creates automatic “word clouds” from your own text, a bit like how with Bablefish you can translate text into a different language. Above is one I made using the lyrics to Prince’s Gett Off (though the little fella refuses to allow his music onto youtube, so this link is to a clip of Hilary Swank doing a karaoke version in the film P.S. I Love You. Don’t rush out to see it.) Wordle reduces the creative process to the push of a button, just as Bablefish reduces entire languages in the same way. Of course, just because you can “translate”, doesn’t mean you can actually speak another language. And Bablefish’s translations are notoriously, er, bad.

Here’s that first paragraph translated into French and back again:
Wordle is a Web site which creates the ” automatic; clouds” of word; of your own text, a little as the way in which with Bablefish you can translate the text in a different language. In top one is that j’ made using the texts with Prince’ ; S Gett with far (although the small type refuses to allow its music on the youtube, thus this bond is with staples of Hilary Swank making a version of karaoke in l’ love of book per square inch of film you. Don’ ; T precipitate outside to see it.) Wordle brings back the creative process to thorough the d’ a button, just like reduced Bablefish of the whole languages in the same way. Naturally, just because you can ” ; translate” ; , doesn’ ; T mean that you can really speak another language. And Bablefish’ ; the translations of S are manifestly, heu, bad.

See what I mean?! Now imagine the same thing happening when translating text into visuals. Wordle seems to provide a way of being “Creative” and “Visual”, without having to understand or be either. I can imagine this kind of thing would be very popular in pitches within the boardroom…

Here’s one from the Tory-blogging-hub that is Conservative Home, and another (taking the Bible as its subject!) from from St Mary’s United Methodist Youth, or SMUMCYOUTH:
Perhaps the boardroom exec’s (or their flunkies) is exactly who Wordle is designed for, and I shouldn’t get upset about it. But then I can’t escape the feeling that it, or other online tools like it, will eventually be harmful to the Graphic Design Industry. We had a discussion in VCT a couple of weeks ago about the recognition and acknowledgement of expertise that Graphic Designs receive as professionals. Not nearly enough, we agreed! The problem being that “Graphic Designer” is a job title that only emerged fairly recently (1950s, or there abouts), so the role doesn’t have the heritage possessed by, say, silversmiths or architects. There’s no Guild of Graphic Designers to hand-out licenses or certificates of competence.

So, give people the power to create something quickly and without any thought or expense and will they run wild with it, ruining the party for everyone else? Maybe not. Look at the proliferation of £10 logo websites, such as the very straight-forward 19DollarLogos.com:

Would you buy a logo from a company who’s own logo looks like that? Credit to them at least for standing by their product. Perhaps someone with not much money and no sense of pride in their own company would be persuaded by arguments as compelling as this –
“FACT 1: In majority of cases the initial logo idea is usually the best.
FACT 2: The more revisions you make, the less professional result is.”
…er, okay. Well, at least their work is consistent. In fact, many of their logos look like they could have been automatically generated using drop-down menu parameters. Take a look at this one, where they appear to have spelt “mom” wrong:
Anyway, the point I was eventually getting round to is that plenty if these websites exist quite happily alongside the likes of Wolff Olins. They’re at different ends of the food-chain. VERY different ends.
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