I live tweeted a webinar today…

Webinars are a disappointment. I’ve only attended a handful of them – but they’re always the same. Like Ted Talks, they cover just the surface of a topic and have a set of visuals you’ll see in any old webinar.

This webinar was by IBM about … globally designing… something or other. Essentially they talked about updating their own companies graphics and supposedly making the workflow better in the process. It was done over a period of two years (the process not the webinar – although, you could have fooled me!). Unfortunately I’m not sure it’s been implemented long enough to really make the case for it being better than an alternative. Better than before? Surely. Though I’m sure there are a lot of employees who miss the old user interface (albeit an old, ugly, generic, overcomplicated Windows UI). … Honestly I’m disappointed in the process they used (according to their presentation). My live tweet starts here: Start here, click backwards in order to go forwards

But you’ll see what I mean. The presenter said things like, and I’m paraphrasing, “In order to go forward, we needed to look at the history of IBM. It’s iconic designers like Ray and Charles Eames and Paul Rand.” … and then said something about skipping over certain, more recent parts of their design history. It’s OK to be selective. But don’t pretend like all history is pretty.

Because this was geared towards graphic designers (and similar), there were lots of generically pretty slides, low visually important content, and at least one slide featuring phrases like “brand personality” and one slide featuring the infinity symbol. Because graphic designers need to show the breadth of what they do. Also of note were the terms “organic”, “fluid” and the #maxcatchphrase “wholistic” (which I misspelled in the tweet).

To sum it up though, I’m left imagining what could have been: decision making about the process, who almost lost their job over a bad decision, where the translation of the pretty history stuff happened, what could have been if they’d researched deeper and used this opportunity to make something that isn’t just visually on par with everything else. More critical theory, less visually coming of age.