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a history of the stick figure                    eric lewallen                               @elew               eric@sche...
This talk was first given at Ignite Portland 2 onFebruary 5, 2008.The original slides contained very little writtentext. I...
The stick figure.You already know him – that little, iconic,round-headed fellow that helps you cross thestreet, helps you ...
But where did he come from?
Our stick figure’s past actually beginswith statistics.To learn more, we need to jump back toaround 1920 in postwar Vienna...
At this time, much of Europe is still reelingfrom the aftermath of World War I.
There’s a growing interest in constructeduniversal languages.Many people feel that through a commonlanguage, we can better...
But Neurath believed words had led to thesemisunderstandings in the first place.
His interest in hieroglyphs led him to develop asystem to help people understand social andeconomic facts using a minimum ...
To develop this system he collaborated withGerd Arntz, a Vienna artist well known for hisblack and white woodcuts.
Arntz worked in a simple style that could beeasily understood by ordinary people.
Neurath molded this style into simple stickfigures that became the building blocks ofpicture statistics.He developed a set...
Images could be combined to communicatedifferent messages.For example, a stick figure becomes a worker bysimply superimpos...
Isotype Society Archive
Neurath named his system ISOTYPE, which isan acronym for International System ofTypographic Picture Education.A stick figu...
The following are a few examples of charts in theISOTYPE style from 1939.What’s important here is that you can perceivethe...
Neurath is targeted for his political views justprior to World War II, forcing him to flee twiceacross Europe – first leav...
Constructed universal languages that werebanned during the war never fully recover.
However, the stick figure emigrates to the USwith Rudolph Modley, who founds thePictograph Corporation in New York City.
The stick figure is commercialized into a formthat is well-suited for advertising, whichcollectively becomes known as clip...
However the stick figure is now free of hisstatistical framework and is able to stand alone.He becomes a free agent!
This individuality is tested on the world stageduring the 1972 Munich Olympics. Otl Aicherdesigns a set of stick figures t...
A new set of figures have been designed foreach Olympics ever since.
In 1974 the AIGA evaluated stick figures from theOlympics to create a standard set of symbols foruse in the US.
The bathroom guy as we know him is born.
He also gets married, has a baby, and adopts adog that they’re always picking up after.
Traffic signs need to be understood in mereseconds while driving at high speed.
So the stick figure went to work at theDepartment of Transportation.There he holds various jobs such as park ranger,crossi...
From here the stick figure enters into the realmof popular culture.
He’s become a celebrity, with websites, Flickrgroups and information design paparazzi allchronicling his activities.
He now belongs to all of us.
However, the stick figure hasn’tforgotten his roots.
The New York Times: The first is 30 Days in Iraq, February 4, 2007.
The New York TimesCasulties, The first is 30 Days in IraqFebruary 4, 2007
The New York TimesCasulties, One Year LaterJanuary 6, 2008
The New York Times: One Year After, January 6, 2008
The stick figure is being rediscovered as away to communicate concepts of socialeconomics and facts, and to once again hel...
thank you.eric lewallen@eleweric@schematagroup.comwordsarepicturestoo.wordpress.com
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
a history of the stick figure
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a history of the stick figure

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The origin of the stick figure as an information graphic.

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a history of the stick figure

  1. 1. a history of the stick figure eric lewallen @elew eric@schematagroup.com
  2. 2. This talk was first given at Ignite Portland 2 onFebruary 5, 2008.The original slides contained very little writtentext. In this version I’ve added screens containingsnippets from the transcript so you can followalong more easily.I hope you enjoy it.
  3. 3. The stick figure.You already know him – that little, iconic,round-headed fellow that helps you cross thestreet, helps you find a bathroom, or warnsyou about construction or danger.
  4. 4. But where did he come from?
  5. 5. Our stick figure’s past actually beginswith statistics.To learn more, we need to jump back toaround 1920 in postwar Vienna, and the workof social scientist Otto Neurath.
  6. 6. At this time, much of Europe is still reelingfrom the aftermath of World War I.
  7. 7. There’s a growing interest in constructeduniversal languages.Many people feel that through a commonlanguage, we can better understand each otherand avoid conflict.
  8. 8. But Neurath believed words had led to thesemisunderstandings in the first place.
  9. 9. His interest in hieroglyphs led him to develop asystem to help people understand social andeconomic facts using a minimum of words.
  10. 10. To develop this system he collaborated withGerd Arntz, a Vienna artist well known for hisblack and white woodcuts.
  11. 11. Arntz worked in a simple style that could beeasily understood by ordinary people.
  12. 12. Neurath molded this style into simple stickfigures that became the building blocks ofpicture statistics.He developed a set of rules for his system –for greater quantities he didn’t show biggerfigures, he simply showed more of them.
  13. 13. Images could be combined to communicatedifferent messages.For example, a stick figure becomes a worker bysimply superimposing a symbol on it.Libraries were created so stick figures can beproduced quickly.
  14. 14. Isotype Society Archive
  15. 15. Neurath named his system ISOTYPE, which isan acronym for International System ofTypographic Picture Education.A stick figure logo was used as a signature onhis diagrams which says “I’m going to tell you astory about you”.
  16. 16. The following are a few examples of charts in theISOTYPE style from 1939.What’s important here is that you can perceivethe patterns and relationships at a glance.You immediately know by looking that thesecharts are about people.
  17. 17. Neurath is targeted for his political views justprior to World War II, forcing him to flee twiceacross Europe – first leaving Vienna for theHague, then ending up in England for theremainder of the war.
  18. 18. Constructed universal languages that werebanned during the war never fully recover.
  19. 19. However, the stick figure emigrates to the USwith Rudolph Modley, who founds thePictograph Corporation in New York City.
  20. 20. The stick figure is commercialized into a formthat is well-suited for advertising, whichcollectively becomes known as clip art.
  21. 21. However the stick figure is now free of hisstatistical framework and is able to stand alone.He becomes a free agent!
  22. 22. This individuality is tested on the world stageduring the 1972 Munich Olympics. Otl Aicherdesigns a set of stick figures that could be easilyunderstood by international visitors without theuse of words.
  23. 23. A new set of figures have been designed foreach Olympics ever since.
  24. 24. In 1974 the AIGA evaluated stick figures from theOlympics to create a standard set of symbols foruse in the US.
  25. 25. The bathroom guy as we know him is born.
  26. 26. He also gets married, has a baby, and adopts adog that they’re always picking up after.
  27. 27. Traffic signs need to be understood in mereseconds while driving at high speed.
  28. 28. So the stick figure went to work at theDepartment of Transportation.There he holds various jobs such as park ranger,crossing guard, and also does some lightconstruction work.
  29. 29. From here the stick figure enters into the realmof popular culture.
  30. 30. He’s become a celebrity, with websites, Flickrgroups and information design paparazzi allchronicling his activities.
  31. 31. He now belongs to all of us.
  32. 32. However, the stick figure hasn’tforgotten his roots.
  33. 33. The New York Times: The first is 30 Days in Iraq, February 4, 2007.
  34. 34. The New York TimesCasulties, The first is 30 Days in IraqFebruary 4, 2007
  35. 35. The New York TimesCasulties, One Year LaterJanuary 6, 2008
  36. 36. The New York Times: One Year After, January 6, 2008
  37. 37. The stick figure is being rediscovered as away to communicate concepts of socialeconomics and facts, and to once again helptell us stories about ourselves.
  38. 38. thank you.eric lewallen@eleweric@schematagroup.comwordsarepicturestoo.wordpress.com

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