Responses by Jason Dietrick, creative director; Antonio Mondragón-Becker, art director; and Phil Ruppanner, founder, Upperquad.
Background: “Jigsaw confronts the most pressing digital threats facing open societies today,” says Phil Ruppanner. “This issue of The Current—its online publication—explores the issue of toxicity online and its threat to publishers, platforms and society, as well as the countermeasures employed across the Internet.”
Favorite details: “We’re really proud that each issue of The Current offers a fresh, vibrant experience,” says Jason Dietrick. “Certainly for this issue, we’re leaning heavily on nostalgia. We dove headfirst into early ’80s and ’90s OS interfaces—and all their pixelated charm. Adopting this visual approach brought levity to this issue, reminding us of a time when technology was all exploration and potential. Art direction made the decision; what followed was just us enjoying a devil’s worth of details—sly icons, pixel art scenery, antialiased pull quotes, silly interactions—all meant to remind us of a time when the Internet was a happier place and maybe one we can find again if we start paying attention to its problems. Jigsaw’s research in the field and its tools, like the Perspective API, are so interesting that they deserved some flair and panache in the visual storytelling.”
Challenges: “In general, the biggest challenge is finding the right balance of storytelling and design that communicates the research of the Jigsaw team without obfuscating the piece,” says Antonio Mondragón-Becker. “Similarly, helping to craft the narrative in a way that is clear, concise and effective has been an exciting challenge on all the work we’ve done with Jigsaw thus far.”
New lessons: “The Current editorials are always a learning experience just in terms of content alone,” says Mondragón-Becker. “We really need to understand and to dive deep into the subject matter in order to create these, and the lengthy conversations we have with the research teams are always an amazing learning experience. Specifically for this issue, we used the tool Aseprite to create all the pixel illustrations. It was an entirely new program for the team, and it was a blast learning how to illustrate in a pixelated style.”
Special technological features: “Integrated into this issue is Perspective, a tool from Jigsaw that uses machine learning to reduce toxicity online,” says Ruppanner. “Perspective returns a score expressed as a percentage that represents the likelihood that a text will be perceived as toxic. Enabling users to interact with this tool is a very powerful demonstration of the technology and how quickly it works.”