Graphesis, Final Chapters

Interface & Interpretation:

In this section, Drucker takes the reader on a historical tour of interface. Drucker, staying on theme in the book, seems to lament the concept of designing universal, drawing the distinction between the generic "user", stemming from a more "engineering" aspect, and instead suggesting we use the word "subject." Again I think this implies there is some deeper way of adding unique perspective to an interface, a kind of always-on point of view. Later, in a discussion of "frame analysis" Drucker calls interface "not a thing, but a zone of affordances in which format features provoke meaning production." This sort of turn of phrase throughout Graphesis becomes exhausting. I don't see any new particular insights from this section.

The section the history of book design is interesting, and more thought provoking. By the time we get to her "book of the future" concept - that it will not imitate old forms, but a book will an "interface" and a "richly networked portal." One can only wonder why Graphesis, which draws on a rich history and offers a lot of forward looking content, is not available in a format which could demonstrate Drucker's vision. It certainly seems like it would be a great candidate for this.

Turning interface into a "event space of interpretative activity" seems like a nice ideal - but it would be more interesting to see an example of handling "ambiguity" and "uncertainty". The constant references to "uncertainty" have me wondering if Drucker is aware that statistics, which Drucker seems to place on a opposite poll from the humanities, is actually the study of uncertainty itself. So I feel Drucker is eventually is headed towards the same place many in the physical/empirical sciences are, she is just traveling a different path.

Designing Graphic Interpretation:

In this chapter, Drucker calls on us to further develop methods to explore knowledge. I did like her suggest to offer an intgrated 'table of contents across multiple texts'. But usually Drucker offers more questions than suggestions or answers. I visted the "Knotted Line", which is one example referenced in the text. I could appreciate the structure and interactivity of its content. From these perspectives, the content may work, but it fails to handle multibles point of view, ambiguity, etc.


The afterword is a kind of grand gesture, conjuring up a future vision of limitless possibilities for narrative, collaboration, and interaction. There is a sense of wonder about what types of grammar will emerge in the future. Its a sort of optimistic future but with few details. Ultimately, in the final analysis, I think Graphesis serves less as new insight and more as an inspiring read to challenge the read to imagine what "might be". I am reminded of Thoreau's quote when he heard about long distance telephone: "What if the people of Maine have nothing to say to the people of Florida?"

That is to say, Graphesis is an interesting take on the field; it is more of a challenge and a book about history & ideas; I feel likely its aims won't be realized without purposeful intent.