or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, June 24, 2012


I don't know about you, but when I see a logo of some sort, my brain immediately and without being asked begins to unpick it for meanings.

Not everybody's brain works the same way. Jim's doesn't. He's a very visual person and an artist, but he doesn't analyze graphical images for subtextual meanings. As an example of what I mean, this is the outside of the Halifax Metro Centre:

I don't even know how it came up in conversation, but I mentioned the fact that the logo, which consists of two stacked squares, two right triangles, and a circle, was obviously meant to represent the letters H M and possibly C (I could argue it either way). I mean, it was obvious to me: Jim, who had been living in Halifax for years before we met, had seen the sign hundreds of times and had never even considered that the logo might be anything other than an abstract design.

When I saw the following ad on Pharyngula, I thought, "Oh, you have got to be kidding me."

It reads "Ascent of Atheism": it's for an upcoming conference in mountainous Denver, Colorado, and so the large 'A's are shaped like mountains. Very clever!

And also unfortunately a very bad idea, because if you treat the 'A's as literal mountains, as graphical objects, then the logo reads "Scent of Theism". Did it not occur to anybody involved in the design of this thing that when you chop off the first letter of the two main words in the logo — a thing which in fact the design invites you to do by making those letters perform double duty — then the logo would take on a drastically different meaning? Because it's the FIRST THING I THOUGHT OF.

This is really just a variant on proofreading: you have to let any kind of visual information, whether text or graphics, pass under at least two different, and I mean very different, pairs of eyes before you unleash it on the public, because if there's a critical mistake or an unintended meaning, you have to give as many people as possible the chance to catch it.


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