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Vootie's picture
1598 pencils

The Noun Project's Icons of Global Communication

Sure, times are still tough and the forces of neoliberal capitalism continue to run roughshod over the planet. But is that any reason to despair? I should say not. After all, the good guys are still out there beavering away on projects of benefit to the common good. Case in point is The Noun Project, which is dedicated to "building a global visual language that everyone can understand."

The focus here is on symbols, which have the potential to "transcend cultural and language barriers." In fact, the project has as its goal "to create a social language that unites the world." No less than that! You can benefit from this utopian approach by downloading the free icon sets on the project's site. And of course there's always the possibility for further engagement, if the siren song of changing the world through design is one you can't resist. The clip below provides some background on this worthy initiative.

Commenting on this Blog entry will be automatically closed on March 19, 2013.

Art D. Rector's picture
3165 pencils

It's a bold initiative and I salute their enthusiasm, but I think one thing they need is an editor of some type. If this is supposed to be a universal language (esperanto anyone?) - then every icon needs to be easily identifiable imho. I'm having trouble identifying a good portion of them on the website. But thatnks for the heads-up - it's interesting.

YoungZM's picture
917 pencils

I don't know, I want to agree on optimism as far as how you feel Art D but I think there was a reason symbols died out as society progressed. They're no where near as quick to write or draw, clear or easy to understand as words. The more we have to say as society, the less we're able to use symbols as they're supposed to be simple and easy to understand. If you're trying to communicate all words in the English language there's bound to be vague examples and confusing cross overs. This is more of an art project rather than something I think can work/ is thought out long term. Cultural norms also will greatly differ from me creating a symbol like what Hindu's and Buddhists use and to describe the Nazi's for example. One means war, genocide, racism and extermination while the other is peace.

I'd like to say I acknowledge society moving back towards symbols with things like GUI learning spaces, but there's a limit on how many words are being understood through symbols in a program, they're also accompanied by text and they've been used for generations (ie. save, or next/ previous/ok/cancel, they're simple and clear and you can see when a bad one flops because users become confused. Creating an entire language of symbols again without an art director to moderate the dictionary and put together a style we can all understand is a more than impossible task for say 1000 words, and that barely touches the languages surface.

Art D. Rector's picture
3165 pencils

Oh don't get me wrong, ZM - I fully expect this thing to fall on it's face. Given the amount of webspace dedicated to product sales, I get the feeling this is more a short term thing to make money - not change the world. They get some free media coverage because of the interesting idea, sell some t-shirts and a month or two from now they close up shop. That's my guess.

YoungZM's picture
917 pencils

Sad business models like that exist :( it's why as a species we've stopped evolving past developing language, music and art, science into just printing more money for people to hold onto.

Vootie's picture
1598 pencils

Your guess is wrong. Did you take the time to check out the projects they are involved in? There is no need to be so cynical. Perhaps you are doing more with your design skills to try to make the world a better place? If so, please enlighten us. http://blog.thenounproject.com/

Creativebits is a blog about Creativity, Graphic Design, Adobe, Apple and other related subjects.

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