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Archive for the ‘Multimedia 352’ Category

What are your initial overall impressions of your colleague’s non-linear hypermedia dream trip?

Overall this was a good overview of Erik’s life and what he finds important… sort of like a photo album with associated commentary and links that provide additional information. I felt like I got to know Erik a bit by delving into his site, and came to an understanding of how he spends his time and what he finds interesting and important. The main pages have a common layout and design, although the supporting pages often deviate. The “look and feel” of the site could use some tweaking – dark blue links on a black background aren’t so good, and in places the text is centered. It is also very clear when you go to supporting pages, as there is no layout there… pictures or words on plain white background, or links to other websites. The navigation also forces the user to use the browser to navigate… most support links do not have a link back into the body of Erik’s website.

Discuss the level of immersion that you sense as you move through the site. On a scale of one to five (five being the most immersive), how immersive is the experience? Discuss the degree to which the site is non-linear?

Again, the navigation mentioned above hinders some of the immersion… especially pages that enter you into other websites. I’d give it a 3 on immersion. For the most part, the site is hierarchical. The non-linear aspect is the in-text links that bring you back to the second tier of the hierarchy. I appreciate the way that these links are tied to appropriate words in the text, but they seem a little strange in what is otherwise a hierarchical setup. I find myself wishing I could have a menu bar or a link back to the first page, but this may be my own discomfort with nonlinearity coming through.

Is there enough content to keep you interested or does it seem as though the site is lacking content?

There is quite a bit of content, but most of it moves away from the core layout of the site and therefore doesn’t quite feel authored as a coherent whole.

Is there are consistent theme or idea that seems to emerge? What is it? How does the non-linearity/linearity direct your attention to the theme or idea? In other words, what are the relationships between the navigation structure and the main idea of the site?
I suppose I would describe the site as an exploration of core values, and therefore the non-linear links show how all of these core values are interconnected. The hierarchical/linear links function to expand on an idea, and the non-linear links show how the core values connect to each other.


What is the most compelling or most interesting part of the site? What is the most uninteresting part of the site?

The youtube video of the guy playing rhythm guitar and percussion at the same time was really cool, as were the collected photos of Erik and his friends/activities. The links to tourist information sites (Wallowa Lake, Joseph, OR, etc.) were not so interesting. I didn’t bother to read them, and found myself avoiding links that I thought would bring me out of Erik’s site.

Are there any problem areas that you see as you navigate? This could be a structural problem or a “404” error, broken links, hidden links, etc. Help your colleague understand why it’s a problem and offer solutions.
Structurally, I didn’t like the dead-end links, especially with the pictures. It seems like the photo pieces could be put into one flash page, or a series of html pages with forward/back links. This would allow the user to cycle through the photo collections without having to go back and click each one individually. Also the thumbnails of the photos are slow to load… looking at the page source it looks like these are jpegs, and probably the originals, which would explain it. Might want to create thumbnails separately as web-ready, small gif files. A 404 error on a picture on the “Friends” page… Also the youtube videos tend to end early, and then change to a screen where you can choose other youtube videos, it says <embed>, etc… might clean this up.


Lastly and most importantly…considering your experience at the site, what are the great ideas that you will carry forth on your own dream trip?

I like the embedded videos. I also like the playful links (“wisley”, “July”)… they’re fun and tell us another aspect of the author’s personality. This also uses a nice mix of text and images.

 

Looks like that’s all the questions. This was fun to look at, and showed that Erik knows how to incorporate different elements to create a multimedia experience.

Thanks.

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You may find my non-linear non-fiction (ah, the limits of words exposed) project here. I encourage you to simply click into it from the home page (you’ll enter randomly) and see if you can figure out the interface. I’m curious to hear how this experience works and doesn’t work. The two links below it you can ignore.
Thanks and enjoy.

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So i was encouraged (ok, it was an assignment) to try something new and follow a tutorial of some sort. Google Sketchup seemed like some fun that i hadn’t experienced yet, so i gave it a try. I just opened the help and followed the introduction, which was pretty helpful. Using my newfound sketchup skills, i made a pitiful attempt at a house-like structure, and learned just enough to realize that i probably ought to use the help button a bit more if i wanted to get anywhere.

try1.gif

The basics are pretty simple. You select the rectangle tool, draw a shape, and then use the push/pull tool to make it 3D.

But that’s just the start. Once you have a shape, you can push/pull on any of the faces to modify it. More importantly, you can draw another rectangle on any of the existing surfaces and push/pull that. If you push/pull to another face, you can create a void. For instance, to make the walls of my building, i made a large rectangle, pulled it up, then drew a smaller rectangle inside the top surface and pushed that down all the way to the bottom face. Automatically, sketchup made this a void space, with the end result being something that looked like four walls that form a rectangle.

You can do the same thing for windows, a doorway, etc. For some reason my doorway was a void once, but then i messed it up mysteriously and now it won’t be a void anymore.

Hoping for a stucco-house aesthetic, i tried to make some floor beams that stuck through the face of the building. It quickly became apparent that i hadn’t planned this quite right. Instead of making beam-like objects, i was creating a hollow, void space. So next i tried making a beam object off to the side to see if i could rotate it and simply drag beams into the existing structure. The rotate function is a little less than intuitive… i definitely need a tutorial on that. But i’m out of time and was supposed to crank out ten or fifteen web pages in the hours i’ve spent doing this, but at least i got you started. Good luck.

Here’s what i created.

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More Google Earth

Here’s another .kmz file you can download and play with in google earth. It is ten places i would like to visit:

the file

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On Friday, Suzannah Moore acted as a stand-in professor and shared some ideas about print advertising. Some interesting ideas came up – that modern advertisement sells a lifestyle rather than a product, especially when the products are expensive – that much of the style and content of ads are interchangeable with other products – that sex sells – that the lifestyle being sold isn’t necessarily reality. (about imitation)

Something that my mind latched onto was this concept of advertising a lifestyle instead of a product. It seems strange to me. Does this mean that advertising research has found that promoting a lifestyle myth in general is more effective than directly advertising your product? The ads I’m talking about are the ones like the jean and cologne ads that don’t seem to advertise anything in particular, and even the brand name is hard to find. They seem to make you want to be that person instead of wanting to buy a product. (examples)

How does this work? Don’t their competitors, who also sell products that contribute to coolness, also benefit from this advertising? I guess this is why I’m not in the marketing business.

The other thing that caught my attention was the idea of print commercials versus television commercials. Why are television commercials so much more odious than magazine advertisements? It seems to me that it is a matter of control. A magazine reader is an active participant in their own experience – they can skip ahead, move back, decide to read one thing but not another. They can skip advertisements or choose to study them.

In contrast, the broadcast television audience is passive. This audience has given up control in favor of immersion, but as a consequence they have to sit through advertisements over which they have no control. The only options are to stop paying attention or change the channel.

Why is this important? For me, it is a reminder of a criticism that George Landow, in Hypertext 3.0, has of video and animation clips. These clips, especially when imbedded in an otherwise interactive space, change the user to a passive audience rather than an active one. This is a good consideration when designing a web site – that a user engaged by the site, and clicking on links, is suddenly forced to sit back in her chair when a clip is clicked. This may not be what the site designer intends. It is sort of like inserting a television commercial into a magazine.

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My techno-utopia

High technology has done us one great service:

It has retaught us the delight of performing simple

And primordial tasks – chopping wood, building

A fire, drawing water from a spring…

Edward Abbey

My vision of techno-utopia is one that allows me to be alone in a cabin in the woods somewhere, away from the rush of the city, disconnected from corporate sponsored television that tells me what i need and how to interpret the news.

It is one where solar power, batteries, and a satellite phone and internet connection are all the high technology i need. My work day will consist of a few hours of writing and sending stories to eager magazine and book editors. The rest of my day will be spent wandering ridgelines, fly fishing, tending a garden, hunting fat elk, and anticipating sunset.

My computer will give me an electric shock if i type certain keywords into the internet, such as “Britney Spears” or “Paris Hilton.” Ah yes, and i forgot about the teleport device, which will deliver friends and family to a nice spot down by the lake when i want to see them AND they want to see me. I wouldn’t want them to arrive at the cabin, and they ought to have to walk a little, anyways.


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technological determinism

Yesterday, with a light snow falling on the hills above Spring Creek, we snowshoed a few miles and found ourselves on a ridge with an open view. In the distance the dim bulk of a mountain showed itself, around to the right the ridges suggested a deep valley. I thought the far rise was the back of Mt. Emily, and the deep valley the Grande Ronde winding toward Ukiah. Amy wasn’t so sure. I’ve learned to never be too sure of my orienteering, so out came the compass.

how to use a compass

A magnetic needle set in a liquid of some sort, encased in a rotating plastic dial with 360 degrees of readings. Black lines to match the true north of a map, the declination already set to eastern Oregon. A red lanyard with a greasy feel of sweat, dirt, and rainfall embedded in its fibers. How many times had I pulled it out like this?

dan-chickened-out-on-veg-plots.jpg

Nighttime in Utah, Arizona… a photocopy of a topo map in one hand, the compass in the other. Laying out the ropes for a vegetation plot, each rope in a cardinal direction. The flat pine stands of Mississipi, the same in every direction. How many times? The road must be this direction… I think I’m standing right there… I need to drift a little more to the east to hit the creek… the truck should be just over that ridge…

When the needle settled in place, the landscape rotated in my head to match the map I had studied before leaving the truck. What I was calling Mt. Emily almost due east. Yes, that made sense. And maybe that would be the Grande Ronde down there. The headwaters of a creek behind me to the northwest, the ridge pointing east-southeast, the creek drifting more to the south. The compass in my hand a lifeline out here with a few miles to walk and the determination not to simply follow our tracks back out.

not exactly our tracks, but...

The compass has been a driving force in my life. Maps couldn’t exist without a compass. Much of the work I’ve done for the last 12 years would have been nearly impossible without a map and compass. Locations needed to be marked precisely so that other people, with their own maps and compasses, could return to that exact spot. Nests, point count locations, owl detections, lynx tracks…

compass rose

In this sense, the compass has driven our ability to know where we are in the world. And how to get back. Would the early mariners have crossed the Atlantic without a compass? Would my European ancestors even be here now? Would early America have been the same place without the knowledge of a vast frontier over the horizon?

People call things they don’t understand “uncharted territory.” Throughout the history of the world, explorers have always used the sky, and the passage of the sun as a way of orienting themselves in the world. But this was an imprecise method, and susceptible to the variances of weather. According to wikipedia, the compass (at that point a magnetized needle in a bowl of water) opened up the Mediterranean to winter travel, and facilitated the expansion of trade. Early versions were the needle in a bowl of water, or the lodestone suspended on a string. This technology, along with depth soundings, opened up the world to maritime navigation. It made the world a bigger place, and within the realm of understanding. No more dragons at the edges.

gps units

Now compasses come with declination, and markings to aid with the use of maps for orienteering. GPS systems calculate a direction as you move with them, and can direct you to a specific point anywhere on the earth. We have precise property boundaries, state and nation boundaries. We know exactly where things are. The impact of this technology on the world is immeasurable. It would not be unreasonable that this simple innovation was the foundation for the rise of science in the world, and the replacement of religion and superstition with the precise knowledge of science fueled by technology.

After an hour of walking it seemed like we ought to be something that looked familiar. A hint of uneasiness crept in. I should know this lesson by heart by now – that you’ve never gone as far as you think. Patience. Stay on course… trust the compass. But just to be sure, the GPS came out. Someone had taken a waypoint at the truck.

After a short wait for the satellites to connect, the digital details came into focus. Half a mile from the truck. We were going the right direction, though drifting a little south. We were fine. Trust the technology. We knew where we were.

the truth is out there

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