METHODOLOGY \PRINCIPLES \ 313-D
1: G. Buccellati, March 2011
A thematic narrative
Degrees of typological clustering
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The higher nodesfrom structures to the site to the region
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PostersThe poster model has become popular in recent years. It provides a useful alternative to an oral paper presentation at large meetings, where there is no more space (mentally as well as physically) for the quantity of material available. The initial practical purpose has led to an interesting development by providing a new style format for synthetic overviews. Thanks to the easy availability of graphic computer programs, the aesthetic quality of these posters is generally very high, and they undoubtedly serve a very useful purpose. But here I would like to point at two aspects that are easily overlooked.
The first is that, in spite of their high quality in terms of content and appearance, posters are essentially ephemeral. This is consonant with the fact that it has originated as an alternative to an oral presentation which, too, is ephemeral. Both oral papers and posters have of course a great impact on the progress of the discipline, and one derived advantage of the media used is that both a digital slide presentation (e.g., with PowerPoint) and a poster can now easily be incorporated in a website.
The second point is more directly germane to our current considerations. A poster is synthetic in the sense that it offers in a single panel a quantity of details that can perceptually be viewed as a coherent whole. In this respect, i.e., in terms of perception, a poster is the direct converse of a website. In the latter, the perception is steered away from the overview and towards the detail. In a poster, conversely, the attention is steered towards the synthesis. It is interesting, in fact, that structurally is poster is nothing more than a story board, with pages juxtaposed, and brought together not so much by a structural factor, but simply by the fact of appearing side by side within a confined space. To absorb the information, one has to go from one frame (page) to the next; but it is immediately clear, perceptually, what the totality of the frames is. Within a website, instead, the individual page abosorbs totally the perceptual range of attention, and while the links make it possible to dart back and forth to other pages, the totality of the site as a whole is generally obscured.