Friday, 27 January 2012

Media examples - meeting 1

Attendees at the first meeting were asked to provide examples of successful communication, using any media. A selection of these "communication artefacts" are shown below:

Dr Will Stahl-Timmins, a researcher at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, showed Florence Nightingale's 'Rose Diagram'. This attractive and innovative diagram was used to show the causes of deaths in the crimean war. It is a flawed presentation, which is used to exaggerate the message within the data, by using a linear scale from the centre of each 'rose'. This causes the number of deaths from infections and other preventable causes to seem larger than they are.

Dr Cassandra Phoenix, a researcher at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, presented images of mature natural bodybuilders. She has used 'auto-photography' in her research, a method in which participants take photographs to give a visual record of things that are important to them.

Tobit Emmens, Head of Research Management and Innovation for the Devon Partnership NHS Trust, presented a short film on the subject of suicide. It aims to show the power of simple, friendly actions. The main technique used here is to inspire empathy, and show that even a complete stranger can change someone else's life for the better through simple friendliness and compassionate actions.
Full video:

Felicity Liggins, Climate Change Consultant for the Met Office, showed the Earth Clock. This demonstrates that, if the length of time that the earth has existed was shown on a 24-hour clock face, humans would only have existed for 1 minute and 17 seconds. This technique shows a difficult to grasp length of time in relation to a more familiar object. A different version, from the film "The 11th Hour" was shown later by Bryan Clark:

Dr Sabine Pahl, a researcher from University of Plymouth, showed three images that form part of her research into the impact of potentially disturbing images. Images of this sort are used to shock and to grab attention, but could also have a unintended effect of causing people to react against them, or even forget them.

This image is a still from a video produced by project ASPECT at University College Falmouth. Professor Mike Wilson, Sarah Chapman and Francesca Booker presented the work, which aims to put climate change into the context of our everyday lives, by recording stories from around the UK.
Project website:

Kelly-Marie Davidson, Communications Officer from Plymouth Marine Laboratory, presented an informative video about ocean acidification - which occurs alongside climate change, but is perhaps less well-known. The video is authoritative in tone, and relies on the reputation of the organisation that presents it - an important aspect of many communications.
Full video:

Ella Westland, Transition Network Facilitator for the community group Make Gorran Greener, showed a video called Brucewatch, produced for Henry Orchard and Sons. The video promoted their business, and also raising awareness of recycling. It has several important features. Firstly, it is amusing, providing a pastiche (of Baywatch). Secondly, it uses Cornish actors and production company - giving it potential social relevance to the audience. lastly, it uses the principle of "sex sells" (or in this case, it grabs attention).
Full video:

This image was provided by Dr Tony Wainright, Senior Teaching Fellow at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter. He talked about the power of images that break convention to attract attention.

Alexander Smalley, Communications & Outreach Manager at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, presented a short video on climate models. The video used a series of video loops to demonstrate the increasing sophistication and complexity of climate models, from basic models featuring only greenhouse gas emissions, ice and cloud cover, to much more involved models with ocean currents, the full carbon cycle, volcanoes, rivers, aerosols and even chemical reactions, plants and soil and ocean biology. The idea of slowly building complexity in a visual presentation to assist understanding can also be effective when used for information graphics and user interace design.

Ashley Rudolph, Senior Lecturer for the Graphic Design course at University College Falmouth, presented this example of the pictograms designed by Otl Aicher and his team to represent the different events at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. These show a great understanding of the audience for his work. He realised that, although the people at the Games spoke a wide range of verbal languages, he could use a visual language that would be accessible to them all - the body positions of the athletes were the only signification that was needed for the events.

Dr Dawn Scott, Research Development Manager at the University of Exeter, showed this Greenpeace poster. It relies on nostalgia and childhood memories - the feeling of loss can be a powerful motivator.

Bryan Clark, Senior Academic at University College Falmouth, showed this image from an installation in São Paulo, Brazil. The idea is that the penguins, made of ice, will melt in the heat - symbolic of the disappearance of real penguins if climate change continues. The addition of unfamiliar objects to a familiar situation can be an effective way of getting attention.