How did the project get started?
- background is in architecture and design from Iowa State
- graduated in 2006 and worked at Gensler in Santa Monica
- while he was there he got into this problem of putting together a lot of presentation boards
- wanted to use graphics to visually communicate these ideas
- when he was doing a lot of sketches in college he hit a rut where he couldn’t find a subject-matter to draw that inspired him
- so decided to draw the simple things that inspired him when he as a child
- started drawing sequoias, trains, trucks, combines
- in 2008 he got laid off
- then decided to try to get this idea off the ground
- the workflow in architecture is very fragment: you design everything and then you build it
- he tried to bring this same mentality to build a website but found that it works very differently
- with a website you start small and build from there, and you correct along the way
- it’s much more user-centric
- at the beginning they sold these “noun shirts”
- one of the problems when you’re just getting off the ground is inventory
- if you stock a lot of inventory, the cost is lower, but if you don’t sell you lose
- if you stock too little and a lot of people but, you’re out of stock and you lose that momentum
- with Kickstarter you would know how many people purchased and then you’d get the stock, thus removing all the risk
- the backers that invest in your idea are really invested in your idea and really want to support you
- an amazing brand-building exercise and an amazing community-building campaign
When you wree initially building the site were there a lot of suprises, things you didn’t anticipate?
- initially he was building a solution for a problem that he experienced
- but right after he launched he got a lot of emails from educators and doctors, saying that they were really helpful for their work
- that excited them to changed their mindset from it just being a graphical resource
- they wanted these symbols to become more of visual communication tools and social objects and not just visual objects
Where do you see some of this graphic language going as a means of communication? What symbols do you feel are really new?
- it’s one thing they’re not doing as good a job as they could and that’s why they’re trying to develop this API system
- they want to allow their symbols to be shared like that
- through the api they’re going to create some games that’ll test user comprehension
One color icons? Do you think of ever introducing color, or animation, or dimension?
- as a a foundation, they’ll always have it as black and white
- they want to allow people to give their visual interpretations of these concepts
- and through technology they want to offer up the one that’s most popular
Do you ever kick anyone out?
- struggled with what their threshold is
- they have a pretty hands-on curation process
What happens if you receive a symbol that means something somewhere else in the world, do you accept it?
- they see where the symbol comes from first and then might ask the person to explain it a little bit
- they do want to accept icons like that
Did you build your own platform? What technology is it built on?
- used a lot of web standards at the beginning but built it back in with django
- Scott knows these things better
- redoing that at the moment
- right now they have a noun paired with an icon
- but they want a one-to-many relationship
- they’ve creating a tagging system