A Simple Test: What's Your Visual IQ?

You can try this at home, using various iterations of the University of California seal and logo.

1. Classic version, UC system official seal:
Do you like it? Yes / No

2. Now, to show variations in the UC approach, let's try some for the flagship Berkeley campus. Here's the Script version:


Do you like it? Yes / No.

3. Combo version:


Do you like it? Yes / No.

4. Retro Version: 


Do you like it? Yes / No.

5. Stylized version:


Do you like it? Yes / No.

6. Campy/corny version:


Do you like it? Yes / No.

Subtotal: Give yourself 2 points for each Yes answer on questions 1-6. Add them up. Now go to the final test item:

7. New logo version for the UC system as a whole:


Do you hate it? Yes / No. For Yes, give yourself 500 points. For No, subtract 1000 points. 

Give yourself an extra 10,000 points if your spontaneous reaction was, "Gee, I heard things were tough for the UCs, but I had no idea."

Now add up your score. Any result in the positive range means: Yes, you have visual taste! A negative score means, congrats on your design commission from UC. Let's hope they put this out for bid again sometime soon.

You can read more about the whole to-do here, here, and here.

Why do I care? I didn't go to any UC branch, but: my brother went to Berkeley, my sister taught at Irvine, for a year I taught at Berkeley, and the Atlantic is a partner with UCSD. I could go on: many of my high school friends went to Riverside, Santa Cruz, UCSB, or UCLA; I've had friends at Davis; and the only serious medical procedure I've ever had done was at UCSF. Also I love the city of Berkeley and the greater East Bay, so overall I've always thought of myself as an honorary Cal guy, specifically a Golden Bear. I have T-shirts and hoodies with variants on designs #1-6. I am never getting anything that looks like #7.  
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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