Friday, October 26, 2007

Slow Media

Last night I was thinking about maps... the appreciation of maps and the time it takes to create them. As I was thinking about it, the concept of "slow media" came to me. Maps are clearly a form of slow media relative to video, TV and a heavily cross-linked web page. It takes time to view a map. The type is often small enough that you can't read the whole thing from a distance. So you end up panning and zooming with your eyes. You take in the gestalt and then zoom in on a detail of interest. Like reading a newspaper, you repeat this process until you feel like you've gotten a full appreciation for the details and the whole. For a moment, I thought I might be the first person to think of the concept of slow media but I was wrong. Helen de Michiel wrote about it in 2002. On the Wikipedia page for the Slow Food movement, there is a See Also link to the Slow Movement that references, Slow Travel, Slow Shopping and Slow Design. Personally, I don't think there is any other type of shopping when you're doing it with a woman... good for women, bad for men.
The post by Helen de Michiel talks more about slow media as it relates to the creation process using the example of her deep appreciation for the content of a documentary she worked on over several years. In this respect, almost all authoring might be considered a slow media relative to the final product. But I do understand the idea. Creating maps takes a lot of time because of the amount of detail that is typically required. And I share her experience in that if you are doing it on the side rather than your day job that it takes a lot of time and your deep appreciation is required to keep the ball moving forward.
I'm hoping to create a blog of my maps to talk about what I've been trying to create but in the mean time, a number of them are posted here along with brief descriptions.