Crisis of Credit Visualized

The Short & Simple Story of the Credit Crisis

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The Crisis of Credit Visualized distills the economic crisis into a short and simple story by giving it form. It is also argues that designers have the ability to see a complex situation, then turn around and communicate it to others. By giving graphic form to the credit crisis, it becomes comprehensible. Not only do economic activities take shape, but new relationships can emerge between these shapes.

My interest in the project stems from 3 primary sources: my simple desire to understand it, diagramming work I conducted at UNICEF, and my earlier motion design work. Initially, I researched printed news and spoke with several friends working in investment banks. However, I began turning more and more to audio and video sources for information. These sources contained an editor’s narrative which greatly enhanced my understanding, often by putting the crisis in some sort of larger context. But I still could not find a holistic or concise explanation.

In the summer of 2008 I was awarded a fellowship to join The Innovation Team at UNICEF in New York. There, while designing global storytelling and media platforms, I began creating system diagrams. The diagrams served to make crazy ideas understandable, and served as a tangible object when presenting these systems which hadn’t yet be built. I felt that I was onto something when the technical project manager informed me that the diagrams had helped him significantly with the system architecture.

After returning from New York, I realized that the earlier motion designs (see Harper’s Index in Motion & Tangible Interactions) I had done were in a sense glorified, moving diagrams. Moving mediums allow for richer narratives. But what really intereseted me was when I gave form to an idea in the diagrams, I was able to draw connections on an entirely new level—and communicate more effectively.

I’ve also created these print spreads from the video’s assets:



Scenes from storyboards


Research sketches

Two excellent This American Life broadcasts proved valuable sources:
Another Frightening Show About the Economy
The Giant Pool of Money