Archive for October, 2009

The web as a contested landscape

The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant
It’s late in the semester, and hopefully everyone’s drunk a fair share of web 2.0 kool-aid. So, let’s supplement the tools and techniques of the course with a bit of context about the problems of using them. This is by no means a complete list. It should be enough to start you thinking.

Where is the public space online?

Public space  is generally considered pretty critical to, among other things, a functional civil society. Consider how many governments fall because of mass street protests. Or the curfews that totalitarian regimes impose upon the use of public space. Continue reading ‘The web as a contested landscape’


Example mashups take manhattan

A terrifying number of people have taken me up on the javascript business, and powered on through with material that we haven’t covered in class. OK, that is awesome, but if that’s the path we’ve gone down, I should almost certainly be taking questions on that theme…

For example, if you followed the link through to the google spreadsheet map maker from the last post in this series, then you might have found that it made you some horrible javascript that it is NOT obvious how to do nice stuff with, and how to attach javascript widgets to. If anyone wants to follow through a step-by-step rebuild of that into some nicer javascript, then we can do that.

We can also look at other things – Google Apps for Your Domain (or What Does Google Apps for Your Domain Actually Do?)… BBpress installation as an example alternate app install. It’s up to you.

Feedback on assignment 2

One key problem with lots of the project proposals was a differentiation between your goals as site creator, and the kind of experiences you wished to provide to your users. Make clear in each section the whose goals you are attempting to meet in each section of the plan.

Similarly, there was a lot of talk of technologies that can be used without a motivation as to why to use them. Google maps visualisations might be cool or whatever, but there is also a real need to justify why to use it other than that “it is there”. There has to be some value add to your aesthetic or commercial goal to motivate using it.

Prioritise! The bulk of proposals were for project far more ambitious than could be delivered in the timeframe. That’s fine, but make sure that you are clear on the priority of your goals, and that you have a plausible fallback plan in the face of (inevitable) difficulties.

Finally, a project proposal is a pitch document. Make sure that you are aware of its need to be persuasive and to present your idea as worth investing time in. Don’t get bogged down in the technologies you will use any more than necessary  – they might be how you will implement them ,but they aren’t what makes your project worth doing.

Now, one final some resource that springs to mind from reading the assessments: The form generation tool that google provides – that dumps data straight into a google spreadsheet for you to use, mashup-style. I think that would be really handy for a number of you getting punter surveys created.

Feedback on assignment 1

The first assignment, our basic hypertext one had a few issues that came up pretty often, so I’m covering them here.

hypertext as an idea

This assignment was by its description very focussed on the idea of text, and what hypertext means, and a few folks has trouble distinguishing the idea of hypertext from the idea of graphic design. I recommend diving back into the history of this stuff and work out what is going on with hypertext as an idea, and where it has come from. e.g. the original proposal for the WWW, Doug Engelbart’s 1968 demo of some of the ideas in embryonic form , or even Vannevar Bush’s 1945 techno-utopian screed on technological knowledge diffusion which is credited with spawning lots of these ideas. Or you might want to expand on the list of media-art specific readings that I gave you – the media art history conference re:live has their archives online, and there is reams of hypertext-oriented material in there. Or you might want to look at some alternative vision of what hypertext could be, e.g: hypertextopia.

progressive enhancement

image courtesy AListApart

Continue reading ‘Feedback on assignment 1’

example mashups – part II


image by schwarz published under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Now, last time when we left off, the site was in what you’d call a colossal mess. Trashed wordpress install, and still no interesting visualisation. So, how to improve things?
Continue reading ‘example mashups – part II’

hosting, small and large

stair in scaffold

One student has asked:

I’m in the process of looking for a webhost and am seemingly overwhelmed with options…

I’ll be hosting a small … portfolio site and am hoping to create custom email accounts. Pretty standard stuff…

Do you have any suggestions for companies that are reliable yet affordable, preferably local?

Continue reading ‘hosting, small and large’

rich media and the standards wars

Tetris cookies

Has anyone noticed this section of our course guide?

Sound and video for the web: Issues re video and sound delivery on the web. Overview of compression and techniques for archived media, podcasts and real time streaming.

Of all the course notes, that’s the one that I think has dated most since it was written. So, let’s take a quick dive into why that is, and what it might mean.

Let’s start with the most basic requirement of browser-based media. Can anyone think of a  “Distributed hypermedia method for automatically invoking an external application providing interaction and display of embedded objects within a hypermedia document”?

Continue reading ‘rich media and the standards wars’


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