Friday, July 25, 2014

Design related quotes from "The Social Animal"

"A wide body of research has found that there are certain tastes that most people share. As Denis Dutton argues in The Art Instinct, people everywhere gravitate to a similar sort of painting - landscapes with open space, water, roads, animals, and a few people. A cottage industry has grown up to investigate this preference. Evolutionary psychologists argue that people everywhere prefer paintings of landscapes that correspond to African savanna, where humanity emerged. People generally don't like looking at dense vegetation, which is forbidding, or spare desert, which has no food. They like lush open grasses, with thickets of trees and bushes, a water source, diversity of vegetation including flowering and fruiting plants and an unimpeded view of the horizon in at least one direction. Some critics have noted that Kenyan's prefer pictures of the Hudson River School to pictures of their own native landscape. That's because, critics argue, the landscape near the Hudson River in New York state more closely resembles the African Savanna back in the Pleistocene era than does the present, and much drier, Kenya."


"More broadly, people like fractals, patterns that recur at greater levels of magnification. Nature is full of fractals: mountain ranges with peaks that greatly echo one another, the leaves and branches on trees, a copse of aspens, rivers with tributaries. People like the fractals that are gently flowing but not too complicated. Scientists even have a way to measure fractal density. Michael Gazzaniga illustrates the process in this example: Imagine that you were asked to draw a tree on a piece of paper. If you left the paper blank, that would have a D (fractal density) of 1. If you drew a tree with so many branches the paper was entirely black, that would have a D of 3. Humans generally prefer patterns with a fractal density of 1.3 - some complexity, but not too much."