Sep 24, 2009

...

i'm enjoying my break but just thought i'd check in while i'm between pages of w&p. 

wow sometimes i feel so old-fashioned (especially in light of my failure to tweet). i prefer to read a book than stare at a screen, i am more likely to read the newspaper while i eat breakfast than get my news online, and i like to write letters (and love getting mail). i admit i don't write letters that often, but really there is nothing better. so this is for all of you who like the letter writing idea but don't ever get around to it. maybe i'll write one today. i'm afraid i only have one kind of paper though.

p.s. i also want to start a book club (is this going a bit too far?)

Sep 16, 2009

tweet update (2 weeks)

i'm actually not all that impressed with twitter. i think i've given it a fair chance, but to be honest i forget to post my 'very important thoughts' (and those not so important). i don't really enjoy reading other peoples tweets either. it's hard to follow one liners. 

to tell you the truth i'm not sure how effective the whole idea is (and i know i'm probably the only one who thinks this), why broadcast our every move when it will appear out of context. is this a valuable pursuit for 'ordinary' people? sure it can be effective in the case of organizations, maybe its just a good advertising tool? 

i'd love to hear from any twitter enthusiasts out there. if you can convince me, i'll give it another chance. otherwise i might just stick to blogging.

Sep 11, 2009

...




I know this isnt good, but book covers are important to me. when i go to book stores or libraries i generally pick up books because of whats on the cover. i dont really like photographs, or the authors name in HUGE print. thats just distracting. whatever is on the cover gives me a sense of the tone of the book before i have even read the blurb. that doesnt mean i wouldnt buy a book if the cover was particularly ugly, but i wold hesitate, and probably try to find a different edition. 

I think people underestimate the importance of a books physicality. paper quality is important too, i think even more so now that people do a lot of reading online. but that isnt really what i want to write about today. (i really just wanted to show you these) 

top two pics from here
last one via tralalosko

Sep 8, 2009

drama



well i've now been on twitter for about a week. it has been interesting, but far from thrilling - maybe i should follow someone more ridiculous?
the thing is that 'drama' doesn't seem to be the point. twitter seems to have become a window into other peoples ordinary lives. just what they do and think day to day. or do we actually think our lives are exciting?

this post from the new yorker got me thinking. do you think we create unnecessary drama? or have we come to accept that we don't need drama to live fulfilling, happy lives?

Sep 3, 2009

oldness



book hands in a secondhand bookstore in paris. brilliant no?

Sep 2, 2009

networking

why am i so reluctant to join online networking sites? 
twitter still feels too far to go, as if joining will push me into a deep dark 'online media' hole.. 
i know its crazy. 
ive long been on facebook, but it took me a while to get there. and i dont use it all that much. so i rationalize by telling myself im not joining twitter because i wont use it. full stop. 
but how do i know this? well i dont. maybe it will open up amazing opportunities, maybe it will get me a job? 
and if it dosnt what do i loose? some annoying junk mail in my inbox? surely i can unsubscribe? (really can i? id like to know) 
maybe i will join. it can be an experiment. 'how far can i go into online social networking without falling in'. ill keep you updated

::update:: im in! if your on twitter leave me a comment so i can follow you. promise no stalking

Sep 1, 2009

assignment one - evaluating web writing

Prominent galleries around the world now use the internet as a platform from which to present their gallery experience to potential visitors. In evaluating how this is currently being done and how the internet can be used to optimal effect, I will focus on three sites whose galleries are key players in today’s international arts scene; the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) site, the Louvre site, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Being cultural and artistic destinations, the aesthetics of these sites is a crucial element, together with the communication of relevant, helpful information to guide the user. These sites will be visited by people of all ages and backgrounds, with varying levels of computer literacy, and varying needs and expectations to the information they hope to find, and to the online experience they hope to have. Consequently I will be evaluating these sites on their universal appeal to their visitors, together with their effectiveness in communicating the information their visitors need and expect.

On entering the NGV’s homepage, the first thing that catches my eye are the promotional images splashed along the top of the browser. Showcasing the current blockbuster exhibition (Salvador Dali: Liquid Desire), together with other related events and promotions, I am immediately provided with a glimpse at what’s on, where and when. The constant renewal of images also emphasizes the abundance of events that visitors have at their fingertips. Immediately under this are a number of coloured tiles, clearly labeled and providing links to the NGV’s two main galleries (The Ian Potter Center and the NGV International), an About page, and the main exhibition currently showing at each location. Colour is used very effectively to create a clean, sophisticated page with small areas of bright colour backed by black. No scrolling is needed to navigate to your desired destination, and the page is not cluttered with irrelevant information. Below the coloured tiles are a list of various links (from the NGV shop to becoming a member), the opening hours of each gallery, and three icons that link to specific upcoming events. While these are neatly displayed, a lack of pull-down menus prevents visitors browsing more of what the site has to offer from the homepage.

The Louvre site has a similar slideshow on its homepage giving you glimpses inside the Louvre. The actual Louvre icon is modest, tucked away in the top left-hand corner, while attention is given to the contents of the gallery. Running along the top of the slideshow are various pull down menus, with links to areas of interest (e.g. museum, collection, exhibitions, activities), together with a number of language options for the site, a search window, glossary, calendar and sign-in link for members. Having these links across the top of the homepage ensures easy access for all users, no scrolling is necessary, and the white and grey colour scheme makes all icons and text easy to read. The multi-language option is an obvious advantage, as many of the site’s visitors will be international visitors. Making users feel at home as soon as they enter the site is a sure way to encourage them to explore and make use of the sites features.

Unlike both the NGV and Louvre, MoMA’s homepage initially appears as a pop-inspired bar-graph representing the current exhibitions with the caption ‘Summer at MoMA, plan accordingly’, and the letters MoMA running down the right-hand side of the screen. This is their summer welcome page, a nice touch for the holiday period when they are expecting great numbers of visitors. This page quickly morphs into a moving puzzle of large and small images promoting their current exhibitions, and various other links such as a schools page, a join online link, and the gallery shop. A menu runs along the bottom of the screen with other various links (e.g. visit, explore, learn, support, shop), a search window, members sign-in link, and a alternating link inviting visitors to register to save their favourite pages, links, and to text content to their mobile phones. These little features would be very appealing to tech-savvy travelers. Scrolling down the homepage reveals a ‘what’s on today’ section, MoMA’s physical address, and the option to select a different language to view the site in. The MoMA site immediately feels more interactive, with the icons responding to the curser, changing colour as it moves across the page, and producing sound effects when a link is selected.

On entering the NGV’s individual gallery sites (The Ian Potter Center and NGV International), a contrasting overall white is used, with square tiles showing a pictorial image from each current exhibition as links. A easy to read three block menu remains in the top right-hand corner to direct you back to either gallery page or the NGV’s About page at any time. Scrolling down the page reveals icons linking to future exhibitions and touring exhibitions. These are easy to read, however, a more efficient use of space would allow all the links to fit easily within the window without the need to scroll down.

Links to current exhibitions reveal pages with an informative article, but with limited hyperlinks or cross promotion. A headline is provided in two lines, followed by the exhibition dates, the location within the gallery and whether or not it is a ticketed event. The articles vary in length, but are informative and easy to read. A standard format with only small variances across articles maintains a feeling of continuity across the site. Only the masterpieces exhibit page varies greatly, and appears more interactive with ‘buy online’ ticketing, links to related events, and a short promotional film. Unlike all the other exhibition pages which are predominately white with bright colours used to indicate links, this page is black with white text. This is an effective way to distinguish the page and give the exhibition a more exclusive feel.

Links to temporary exhibitions on the Louvre website lead to a number of differently constructed pages. Some with an article formatted in the style of the homepage, some with interactive slide shows, and some opening up new windows with exciting flash sequences. The articles themselves are well written but at times a little lengthy for online reading, given that the information they include is minimal. A kicker informs the reader when the exhibition is running, and the headline provides the title of the exhibit. Very few links are embedded in the articles, and the text itself is small and not particularly easy to read. The exhibits location within the Louvre is provided in a block to the left of the article along with a link to an interactive map. This is especially useful in such a large and at times confusing gallery space.

Another interesting and effective feature are the virtual tours, giving anyone a chance to visit this gallery from their home computer. Throughout your exploration of the site the original menu bar remains along the top of the screen, along with a history of the path you have taken into the site, should you wish to back-track. This allows for easy navigation, but the overall formatting is in the end simplistic and not very inspiring.

Articles on MoMA’s current exhibits are formatted consistently, with a short article and accompanying image. Below the article, internal cross links appear as ‘related events’, providing further information for visitors. The articles themselves utilise the concise, snappy language that works best for online reading. The headlines are organised well, detailing the name of the exhibition, followed by the dates it is running for, and the precise location it can be found within MoMA.

MoMA’s summer page allows visitors to create their own custom itinerary based on their own personal interests. On any one day you select, you are given a range of events or exhibitions that may be of interest to you in a pie chart format. You can then click on the segment that interests you to find out more. To organise your time you can add the events that interest you to your own calendar page. It also gives you the option to add MoMA to your facebook page to receive updates and event information, or to subscribe to MoMA’s twitter feed. This page is really fun to use, even if you aren’t planning a visit to New York anytime soon. It makes the most of the software possibilities, and most importantly it is very straight forward to use, and accessible to all visitors.

All of these gallery sites avoid linking externally, which makes sense, as they are all major cultural institutions and want to create the illusion that they can provide all the artistic stimulation a visitor could wish for. The effectiveness of each site seems to rely on the clear and creative display of relevant and useful information, the more interactive the better. While the NGV site is the least interactive and least extensive, this probably reflects the resources available to them. It serves as a basic aid for a potential visitor, not ideal for an online look at the collection. The Louvre site is more extensive, with a number of easy to use interactive features. However, the overall formatting is quite bland and standardized. MoMA’s site is very successful in creating an exciting space that encourages exploration. While being highly interactive, none of its features are difficult to access or use. The writing included on MoMA’s site is very well suited to online reading, unlike the NGV or Louvre, which appear to have simply applied the same text as would appear in one of their exhibition catalogues. All sites succeed in providing the visitor with information to current and upcoming exhibitions and events, as well as general admission information. Where they differ is in their successful transition to online content, and the possibilities they offer for further online exploration.

 


Bibliography

Links

The National Gallery of Victoria

The Louvre

The Museum of Modern Art

 

Texts

Consumer Watch, Leap of faith: using the internet despite the dangers, Consumerwatch.org, 2005.           

Dorothy A Bowles and Diane L Borden, Editing for the Web, Creative Editing, Belmont: Wadsworth, 2000.

Jakob Nielsen, Concise, scannable and objective: how to write for the web, Useit.com, 1997.

Jonathon Dube, Writing news online, Poynter.org, 2003.

Lynch, Patrick & Horton, Sarah, Chapter 9, Editorial Style, Web Style Guide 3.

Nancy du Vergne Smith, Thoughts in progress on writing for the web, self-published at AOL, 2003.

Nancy Kaplan, Literacy beyond Books in Andrew Herman and Thomas Swiss (eds), The World Wide Web and Contemporary Cultural Theory, New York and London: Routledge, 2000.

Scott DN Cook, Technological Revolutions and the Gutenburg Myth, Internet Dreams, London: MIT Press, 1997.           

Scott Karp, The evolution from linear thought to networked thought, Publishing 2.0, February 2009.

The only way for Journalists to understand the web is to use it, Publishing 2.0, January 21, 2008.