Matthew T Grant


Tall Guy. Glasses.

“Interweb the Rainbow” or the Rise of Aleatoric Design

This was my last official post for Aquent’s Talent Blog, March 4, 2009. I explored some of the implications of aleatoric design on Marketing Profs’ Daily Fix Blog.

Ms. Pistachio was the first to alert me, via Twitter, natch, that Skittles had gone all Social Media on us. Sure as shootin’, the current (March 2, 2009) is a mash-up of social media sites where the name of the colorful and intoxicatingly concentrated jelly-bean-oidal confection appears.

Of course, Skittles, with the aid of, are following in the footsteps of Modernista!, who took their own website in this direction last year. Still, the fact that a consumer brand has emulated a trendy design shop has got everybody talking, including the ever articulate (and strikingly handsome) David Armano, who rightly predicts, I believe, that we’ll see more of this, not less and goes on to link the Skittle move to the emergence of “sponsored conversations.”

But what is this “this” that we’re going to be seeing more of? I think it’s something we could call “aleatoric” design which takes advantage of the fact that web pages, in the end, exist as a set of instructions to be executed by a browser, not a fixed arrangement of text and image (as in the print world). Since these instructions can be linked to dynamic sites themselves (Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, etc.), design now becomes the quasi-symphonic arrangement of fluid elements that resist control or even predictability.

Given this tendency, wouldn’t it be better for web designers to have a background in performance, choreography, or musical composition than graphic arts? Isn’t it time we acknowledged that interactive design is NOT graphic design (or that the latter is an increasingly small and incidental component of the former)?

Category: Bloggings, Brandery, Design, Emerging Media


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