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How Do We Understand Each Other?

Navigating the world's linguistic babble has been one of the great feats of design.


Navigating the world's linguistic babble has been one of the great feats of modern graphic design. Since early in the 20th century, when it became clear that visual signs could be used as detours around countless linguistic roadblocks, progressive designers have developed accessible graphic icons-mini-logos-to identify everything from restrooms to minefields.The first universal symbols, introduced in 1936 and called Isotypes-an acronym for "International System of Typographic Picture Education"-were invented by the Austrian philosopher Otto Neurath and the artist Gerd Arntz. They aimed to communicate essential information (like the location of a hospital or a police station) to people-rich and poor, literate and illiterate-in an unfettered way. Their invention was the starting point for this age of modern pictograms.Airport signs employ a universal design language that doesn't require specific knowledge of any dialect or culture.Other symbols-based in part on Isotype designs-were often used in public venues and at international events like the Olympics, but, noting the lack of an international norm, a committee of designers from the American Institute of Graphic Arts evaluated the various styles, and integrated them into a final symbolic Esperanto for indicating services and events (AIGA has made them available copyright-free). In 1979, these images were standardized when the AIGA and the U.S. Department of Transportation produced 50 "symbol signs" designated for airports and other transportation hubs.-STEVEN HELLER

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Symbol signs are closely related to commercial, social, and political marks. The peace sign, for example, designed in 1958 by an English designer named Gerald Holtom (inspired by an idea of the mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell), was based on the semaphore signals for "N" and "D" (for "nuclear disarmament") and has an unmistakable message and clear purpose (although a similar upside-down "crow's foot" was used by the Nazis to commemorate death).

distill

Corporate logos, like Rob Janoff's rainbow Apple, Carolyn Davidson's Nike swoosh, and Saul Bass's AT&T bell, each iconic in their own right, are simplifications that immediately telegraph either the positive or negative connotations of the respective product or institution.

transpose

With the computer age came an icons blitz. First came the simple symbols found on computer desktops-the pointing finger, the file folder, and the unhappy face noting that the computer has broken down. Then came the icon as art form, with websites like Pictoplasma devoted to tiny character studies--or avatars-that serve to direct, locate, and identify.

Brian's pick:

Logos get their impact from what they represent, not the other way around. At best, they are visually reductive and narratively neutral-vessels for a wide range of possible meanings. BP's logo is an exception. The first oil company to publicly talk about global warming, BP adopted the helios design in 2001. It is a symbol to inspire the company to move "beyond petroleum"-and a promise to the world that it is willing to be held accountable to suchan ambition.-BRIAN COLLINS
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Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

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via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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