Saturday, October 16, 2010

Drawing the Internet

I was contacted by Scientific American a few weeks back to illustrate an article by the guy who invented the internet. No, not Al Gore, but Tim Berners-Lee.

The article is really about the future of the internet. He posits that for the web to remain as vital and vibrant as it is today, we need to protect it from the threats of corporation and government. My first idea started with describing the threats to the future of the web by using the metaphor of a well with magic water that everyone needed but was being corrupted and constrained.
This idea didn't quite work for them. So I tried two others, that used a city metaphor and, of all things, Jack in the Beanstalk reference- to illuminate the threats to these channels of information.

None of these were working. What the art director wanted the illustration to do was NOT summarize the entire thesis of the article in the form of a visual metaphor, but help describe the somewhat abstract components of the online universe that become key players in the article. Almost like an informational graphic or a visual dictionary about how the web is constructed. 

Do you know the different between the Web and the Internet? I certainly had used them interchangeably before this job- but they actually refer to different systems. Simply put, the internet is the tubes (hardware) and the web is the stuff that connects the tubes to other machines (the protocols).

The author states that the 'gremlins' live in the protocols- the hardware is in place and is multi-platformed and accessible but if the protocols change and websites can't be universally linked to each other without a special interface, the web could be in trouble. So we revisited the first composition and my final sketch illustrated these three levels- the internet below, the web on the surface and the protocols in between- with cities, gremlins and tubes.

The final art was a fun one to work on, with all those monsters and gremlins. We also added two spots to run with the package. A few details included below.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meeting Doodles

I've got a few irons in the fire this week, so I'll be posting a few new editorial projects by end of the week. But, until then, one of the benefits of a teaching community is all the time to draw during meetings. We've had a series of long meetings recently, with exciting new results coming to our curriculum. Here are a few of the drawings that help me listen... (yes, they HELP me listen).

Some of the text has been blurred to protect the innocent.