The last week..

21 05 2009

I’ve just been doing the readings for week 12.

I know the first reading, the ‘Day In The Life’ was written in 2006 and based on a 2005 study, but it seems rather obvious to me. I’m not sure if that’s how much the web has infiltrated our lives in the last 3 years, but none of the information presented in this report was really surprising.

Like the man who was the case study in this article, I also go immediately to the web for extra information on anything that interests me. Tickets for concerts that I’ve seen advertised, more information on news stories, information in a format that I appreciate. It just makes sense. Where I differ from this man, though, is that I could certainly go a week without internet (and intend to, starting this weekend!).

I found all the stuff about online advertising interesting, because although the research in the report shows that just seeing an ad online increases a customer’s chances of purchasing goods from the advertiser, I really don’t think that’s the case for me. I mean, maybe it is and I just don’t know it..

I tend to completely ignore online ads, so much so that I couldn’t even tell you what the last one I saw was for. I also have disdain for them, so I think that any company I see online might be lowered in my estimation. But am I just being naive? Have I actually received subliminal messages that have affected my purchases? I don’t know. But I don’t think so.

There are a couple of interesting articles about the effectiveness of online advertising at dynamic logic, and there’s an interesting Reuters article from last year regarding online advertising.

A few things from this week.

Firstly, a couple of blogs that are Australian and that I love – because they’re weird and geeky – Organic Defect and Clyde the Penguin. Both absolutely brilliant!

Also, I’ve updated the group project page with a couple of things that I’ve discovered you can do with WordPress, like the widgets and how to create a page that’s hidden in the navigation bar.

Also – I’m getting married on Saturday and today I feel like CRAP. Damn flu. But my fiance’s brother arrived last night with his wife, who is a nurse, and she’s assured me that I’ll be better by Saturday.

I’m going to go have a lie down now 🙂



18 05 2009

It may not be exciting for other people, but being the novice blogger that I am, it was very exciting to see that someone I linked to in my last blog – Iain Mosher re. bad error messages – has commented on my page, and linked me back on his blog. Have a look at the comment – he mentions a couple of other good sites that list amusing error message.

How rad!

I feel validated. Hooray!

Also, check out my Blogwatch for an update on what’s happening on GrammarBlog.

So close..

17 05 2009

So, I’ve just had a look at the readings for this week, and I can see that they’re useful for people who are creating functional websites from scratch. I, however, still don’t really know how to write HTML (though I did learn about HTML colour values so that I could change the colours etc of our group project to suit the look that we wanted to go for – see my group project page for updates).

Sometimes I have a look at the HTML viewer for this site, just to see if I can figure the HTML out, but it’s really beyond me at this stage. Must do some more research!

In terms of error messages – gee they bug me! Some sites don’t even have error messages – they just keep taking you back to the screen where you’ve made an error, and making you guess to see what you’ve done wrong.

Others ask you for information you can’t give, and some just make the whole process a nightmare.

Gmail has a really annoying message that says ‘Some Gmail features failed to load’, but it won’t tell you what they are or how to fix them.

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox also gives some good examples of error message etiquette, not unlike Duyne, Landay and Hong.

There’re also a couple of funny examples on this blog, and here‘s a geeky list of the thirteen best ever error messages.

Not much else happening, except the crazy wedding planning and trying to get everything else done. But that’s old news, really, isn’t it? The good news is that I think everything will be done in time.

Just heading over to my Group Project page now to do a bit of an update on what’s been happening.

Distractions, distractions

12 05 2009

As if it’s not enough to have all of the end-of-semester stuff due, I’m also planning my wedding, which is to take place in 11 days. Holy moly!

I seem to be getting distracted from my schoolwork by wedding planning, and distracted from the wedding planning by the schoolwork, so I’m kind of beginning to feel like I’m getting nothing done at all! Argh!

Anyway, having said that, I have read last week’s and this week’s readings, so I’m thinking this might be quite a long blog post.. steel yourself.

Firstly, I think it’s completely ridiculous of Fairfax to try and protect their headlines with copyright – really, as the article points out, stating the facts can hardly be considered an original literary work. What will we do if we can no longer write ‘Sam Newman is a tool‘, or ‘Swine Flu panic more dangerous than flu itself‘? It’s a ridiculous idea, as these themes are likely to come up quite often. This exact issue is why we have the fair use policy in place – so people can report on current issues without having to check every single word for originality (good luck with that, I say!).

The second article from week 9, ‘The Poachers and Stormtroopers’, raises some good points about cultural appropriation, and to be honest it’s not an issue that I can comment on particularly confidently. Being a (sometime) writer myself, censorship is something that I disagree with quite strongly, and the fans who appropriate certain material to create something new are surely benefiting personally from the process of creation, as are the people who read and enjoy the new material.

Having said that, I understand that the issue of poaching and misrepresentation of a brand or product is something that needs to be monitored in terms of a company or franchise’s reputation. Even though Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy had a romantic relationship on a PG show, we wouldn’t want to see them in a sexual clinch, would we? That’s not how they exist in the minds of the purist fans.

To sum up, I’m not sure where I stand. It’s a tricky one, but I’d say that in the end it should come down to whether the original artist/producer feels that the misrepresentation of their product will be detrimental to the company as a whole.

I guess Lessig is of the opinion that creativity is the most important aspect of cultural commentary and creation, and demonstrates this by making his book free for all to appropriate to their hearts’ content. And this is really the crux of it – he issues prior consent, and although it works for him, I doubt that it will be  a concept that takes off within the creative industries. He makes a good point, but a lonely one.

I also had a read of week ten’s articles, and have been trying to think about how best to apply them to our chocolate website. See my ‘Project’ link for more details.

I also found a great design blog called Vandelay Design that lists 50 websites with ‘gorgeous naviation menus’. It’s worth a look! There’s also a list of sites that display creative navigation. The examples are really cool, but I think it might be a bit much for my simple tech-brain to figure out for our site.

Finally, I found the article about writing headlines to be pretty useful, because I write articles for a few of our magazines at work, and the headline is always the part that I struggle with the most. I tend to fall into puns very very easily (I attribute this to my awesome sense of humour, naturally).

Well, that’s it for me for now. Off to plan some essays/last minute dress fittings/class presentations/paper lanterns and alcohol delivery.

A chain is only as strong as its..

29 04 2009

I think this saying is quite apt in light of the readings for this week.

If the links on your page are either weak or non-existent, then the chain of communication (or web, as Rosen puts it) will be broken. Weak links (like those that direct you to pages that aren’t there, or types of files that won’t load) are severely detrimental to your web page, effectively rendering your page the weak link in the chain of communication.

If I visit a page without links, I might look around for a bit, leave, and not go back. A lack of links gives the visitor an impression of a stagnant website that doesn’t draw from external sources, doesn’t want to share its knowledge, and doesn’t refer to anything other than itself. It’s a dead-end. In short, the message is to love the link.

Gradual engagement kind of reminds me of meeting someone for the first time. You don’t say to them, ‘Well, before I get to know you I’d like to know your home phone number, how much money you make and why you’re at this party.’ You shoot the breeze for a bit, and then if you get along, you might possibly exchange some more information, some contact details etc. Nobody wants to put themselves out there all at once – you want to suss things out first, just as you want to suss out a web page’s services before you actually let them have you as a member.

Websites: make friends with your users!

In other news, as I sit here adding albums to my iPod on iTunes, Apple is being sued for shutting down an online discussion about how to use iPods without iTunes. Seems Apple is a bit miffed that their stranglehold on the mp3 market is being loosened.

Google has also launched an information-finding network to rival Wolfram Alpha. On the official Google Blog, a blogger writes:

Since Google’s acquisition of Trendalyzer two years ago, we have been working on creating a new service that make lots of data instantly available for intuitive, visual exploration. Today’s launch is a first step in that direction. We hope people will find this search feature helpful, whether it’s used in the classroom, the boardroom or around the kitchen table. We also hope that this will pave the way for public data to take a more central role in informed public conversations.

This is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more.

With Wolfram Alpha’s launch looming, it will be interesting to see what happens.

A new study has also shown that a large percentage of people who sign up to Twitter lost interest after a month. Facebook and MySpace apparently have a much higher user retention rate. I only signed up today, because I’m always behind the trends. I can see the appeal of Twitter, but I think if I were faced with a block of spare time, I’d probably find other things to do.

Like write an essay. See you tonight!

Easy as ABC

22 04 2009

I don’t know about you guys, but I love the ABC. They continue to provide some of the most comprehensive and culturally aware broadcasts on TV and radio, and they’re still so tuned in to their audience. The fact that they’re continuing to reasearch the way forward with digital content, and being innovators with their approach to digital streaming and broadcast, shows that their attentions are focused outward rather than inward.

Ominously, however, the ABC seem to be feeling that it may be necessary to start charging for content or make certain areas of their digital information password-only, and I agree with Knight when he implores the ABC to expand rather than contract its public offerings online. Otherwise the ABC’s ethos of being a publically owned channel is negated and their credibility is called into question.

Now, with the Federal Government’s plans to invest in higher speed internet for the country, the ABC are poised to take full advantage. Hopefully they can do so without detriment to their audience.

Alan Knight presents his view that we as consumers now have the ability to control, or at least skew the angles, of the media. Some citizen journalism is now becoming as valid, if not more so, than the journalism at major news corporations. This ties in with the third article about gatekeeping and gatewatching.

Gatewatching is evidently the way that the news world operates at the moment. Where I work, I write articles for various publications, and much of my research is performed online. Searches for various topics and news stories result in the same story being returned to me over and over again via different sources, or gatewatchers.

As Axel Bruns points out in his article, there are inherent problems involved with the gatewatching process. Due to the fact that it relies on existing stories, gatewatching, though lack of original content, merely passes on the information in its sources. Some sources will inevitably by inaccurate, misleading or biased, and this is the content that will be passed on via numerous portals. Wikipedia is one such portal, delivering content compiled by the general public. This is why you must never use Wiki for your assignments!!

The user is also aware of this fact, and therefore now has to go to greater lengths to verify the accuracy of the reports encountered. This effectively makes the audience a much more active participant in the news. Does it make them more knowledgeable on the topics they’re researching, having read more than one story, and separated the wheat from the chaff? Possibly, but it also requires more time and effort on their behalf.

In other news, our choco group has started on our website, and since our meeting at Koko Black last week, we’ve really begun to sink our teeth into the project (no pun intended). More to come!


20 04 2009

Last week’s readings concerned online networking sites, and while I think they’re an interesting study of human nature and social interaction, I tend to be a bit on the ‘scoff-y’ side when it comes to analysing them in the way that we tend to do.

The way that society works nowadays is that we do spend more time on the internet than we ever have before. Yes, people spend excessive (and sometimes scary) amounts of time on these sites, and in their most extreme form (ie. Second Life), I think that they can be rather detrimental to the life of a person in the ‘real world’. But, these really are the extreme, and for the most part I think that SNSs are a facet of most people’s lives, but they’re not dominating us.

The boyd and Ellison article actually states that ‘most SNSs primarily support pre-existing social relations.’ This is certainly the case for me and any of my friends who use such sites (incredibly, I still have quite a few friends who don’t engage in online socialising). I use SNSs to check in with people who I regularly see offline, and none of my ‘friends’ are people who I’ve never met. In an age where we have less time to catch up physically due to work and time constraints, it’s pretty easy to log on, say a quick hi, catch up on day-to-day things, and basically nurture the relationship between ‘outside world’ meetings.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a coffee and eye contact any day over status updates and ‘Gemma likes this’, but it’s handy to have a system to let people know that I’m studying, and I haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth.