Inside the head of a designer

The 17th century linear internet
March 26, 2010, 6:38 pm
Filed under: inspiration | Tags: , , ,

rotary reading desk – first tabbed browser, invented in 1588. via Athanasius Kircher society

I’ve been wanting to share this for a while: Say hello to Athanasius Kircher, a man introduced to me a month or so ago by Irene Mcara Mcwilliams, head of Design at the Glasgow School of Art.  She showed us the image above and it just inspired me.  I liken it to the first tabbed browser, apparently called a ‘rotary reading desk’.  Athanasius invented it in 1588, and on investigating him further, I realised that he was quite a remarkable man.  Being described as “one-man intellectual clearing house”.

In an article his approach is described as;

syncretic …and paid no attention to the boundaries between disciplines”

‘various schools of thought’ is such a fantastic way to sum up what syncretic is, and I finally found an explanation for what my head tends to feel like most of the time.  My mind is always making links between all kinds of sources, I guess I get inspired and take inspiration from absolutely everything around me, although, sometimes it can be tiring.  It links to a fantastic lecture I was given by Jon Wood from Goldsmiths who has been doing work on Metadesign, but more to come on that later, that’s an entire blog post in itself.

Is there anyone from the past that inspires you?  Do leave a comment…


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This is groovy in a Heath-Robinson kind of way, but wouldn’t a great big table be better? (Yes, I like Exposé on my Mac 🙂 ).

I have a soft spot for “King” René d’Anjou.

He was a bit of a flop as a King – although a competent statesman and soldier he would keep losing his estates. But he was a poet, a painter, a philosopher, a prisoner and writer who set down one of the first truly usable illustrated “how-to” handbooks back in 1468.

His “traictié de la forme et devis d’ung tournoy” is a step-by-step guide to organising a knightly tourney which is detailed enough to be followed to day (I should know, I have done it). It is also beautifully illustrated with images that are both clear enough to be useful, and artistic enough to be inspiring. Few handbooks manage that even today.

And anyone called “the Good” in his own lifetime, can’t be all bad.

Comment by Adam Lawrence

That reading desk is amazing – I want one, even just to have one. Seriously cool.

And yes – I find more and more (both at CIID and before, especially when working at radarstation) that my millions of tabs, and the links I draw between what I read in them (and elsewhere), is where I can add the most value to a conversation or project… next up I just need to find somewhere that I can be paid to clear my RSS/twitter/tabs on a regular basis!

Comment by Mayo

[…] the ‘general public’. Twitter was one example, and MyFry is another case in point. The non-linear display of information has been kicking about as an idea for almost (and probably over) 500 years, and even in terms of […]

Pingback by MyFry at Visual Communication Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: