Publisert av: thimmis | mars 30, 2009

Foto.no – an analysis

Foto.no – analyzing a picturesque website for photographers.

Foto.no is a website constructed to be a social arena and meetingplace for people of the discursive community with the common interest of photography. The site can be classified as a somewhat educational fan-portal. This would be a mix of the genres defined by Anne Cranny-Francis’ book «Multimedia», 2. Anne Cranny-Francis, Multimedia (London: Sage, 2008), 45.

As this is a .no site and it is completely written in Norwegian, it relates mostly to a community based in Norway, but could also be extended to include Scandinavia in some part. Some parts of the site are used to promote foreign photographers and their exhibitions (in Norway), this is a way for international photographers to reach a Norwegian audience, one could therefore claim that the site is more international than it first appears. On the other hand, the amount of information with an international basis is minimal in comparison to the Norwegian material.

The foto.no logo, placed in the top-left corner, is made of a minimalistic drawing of a camera and text that says «foto.no». The text is written with a sans-serif styled font. The text is based on clean, modern and creative styled lines that is repeated in the picture of the camera. One can also find the letters from the text in the camera which adds to the coherent look and feel of the logo. For instance you can see the «O» in the lens of the camera. The picture of the camera works as a connotation to the subject the site is created for. The camera represents the creativity and artform of photography.

The site has a style that tries to be clean and minimalistic, which also is represented in the logo.

If the user of the site is not logged in as a member, this is clearly stated on the top of the page. This emphasizes the idea that this is a social oriented website where the user is contributing to the site. This is know as positive network externality, which is a function used to describe the effect when user-contribution adds value to the site, which would make more users visit and use the site, and again make users contribute to the site. As Pearlson and Saunders would define it

«The concept that the value of a network node to a person or organization in the network increases when another joins the network.», 2. Keri E. Pearlson and Carol S. Saunders, Managing & Using Information Systems, A Strategic Approach (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006), 354. Although it is easy to use the site merely for the purpose of finding and using information, it is obvious that the site builds around interactions between users. A good example of this is the photocritique part of foto.no, where users presents their images and receives critique from other users on how they can improve the quality of their image.

The main menu displays ten options, which might be considered as breaking with the overall minimalistic style. The search button and the login-text at the top, shows the blue color that could be interpreted as the «theme-color» of the site. The color is repeated in the «hover»-effect used on the menuitems when holding the mouse over an element and the color of the text changes, and elsewhere on the site. But in addition to the blue color, quite a few other colors are used to present the user options. An orange color is used quite consistently to represent the decision made, and the current open option, this workes quite well. But there is also a red and a green color that is used on the site.

The problem here is that it is not used consistently, and when using the two colors red and green together, the users are most likely getting associations way beyond the intended meaning or the actual function the creator had in mind when making the site. When red and green are used separate, red can have wide specter of associations i.e. love, roses or communism, and green can represent environment, spring or fertility. But in modern life when red and green are used together, one associates it with stop and go, yes and no or on and off. But when you see it as two options on a website, the user might expect one of the options to work, and the other not. I.e. when using the green option «picturegallery» you might expect it to behave different from the red option «picturecritique». But to the user there might not be any immediate apparent reason why the two are different. It seems like the color green has been chosen since this is for all registered members, but the red «picturecritique» option is only for «special» members. Considering this, one could argue that the site is trying to build its own concept concerning the that red and green has and that the colorchoice works since it represents two different aspects of the site, one part for registered members and one for the «special» members. But this argument completely fails when the colors are used again in a different but slightly more logical way as another element of the site. When accessing different parts of the sites via the menu, another menu is displayed to the left with options concerning user interaction with the site. Some of the links are in green or red, but neither of them works if you are not logged in. The option is green when the link makes the user add something to a page, but since the same login-prompt is displayed as when clicking the red options the color difference gives no meaning to the user. It becomes a problem when the use of green and red, two colors with obvious , are used in so many different ways. This might add to an impression that the site is not logically built up and comes across as a bit messy. This might be enforced by the many different pictures in different styles displayed on the mainpage.

In focus on the top are the newest published articles, which has become a convention for the frontpage of websites where news are published. But in addition to this, many of the sites different functions are also displayed on the frontpage, which clutters the minimalistic and clean styled site. The firstpage actually has two similar «last photos» galleries in the frontpage. It also displayes several lists with links to different parts of the site. Although some of them are grouped logically, the amount of information displayed at the same time, reduces the functionality of the site. And hinders effective userbrowsing.

The foto.no site might be considered a great tool for photographers who want to develop their own skills by receiving constructive feedback or reading relevant information about photography. But as a website trying to promote an artform and something that should be pleasing to look at, one would expect it to be presented with a somewhat more esthetic design. The logo with its clean and slim look, gives an impression of a site that follows the same ideas. The design of the site is actually quite clean, but the messy frontpage and sometimes strange usage of colors ruins the expectations the logo gives the user. The site’s amount of advertisements have been totally ignored in this analysis, since most online sites need it to survive. Even though the foto.no site has somewhat terrible usability, the amount of wonderful pictures on the site makes it all worthwhile.

References:

Cranny-Francis, Anne. Multimedia. London: Sage, 2008.

Pearlson, Keri E. and Carol S. Saunders. Managing & Using Information Systems, A Strategic Approach. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006.

Wordcount: 1263.

Publisert av: thimmis | mars 6, 2009

Paper 1 – [«Me dumbified? That’s unpossible!»].

“Me dumbified? That’s unpossible!” 1

In 2008 Mark Bauerlein published a book called ”The Dumbest Generation”. As the title implies, the book is meant to address a problem with the youth of today and the technology that surrounds and encapsulates us in everyday life. To promote the release and sale of the book he also launched the website www.dumbestgeneration.com. Some would argue that since the Internet is a large component of his argumentation, the site was designed to promote and enhance the thoughts and ideas that he discusses in his book. I will therefore perform a semantic analysis of the webpage by breaking it down bit by bit, and point out a few points he may be trying to make with the design he chose.

The general layout of the page is quite simplistic. The site has a white background, uses a lot of whitespace, a small header, and a large easily readable menu to the left. But that stands in clear contrast to the rest of the main page. The first thing one most likely notice when entering the website, is the flash text-banner that fades into place and lures the eyes of the viewer to focus on it. As it has been positioned in the top section of the page and supplemented with moving elements, ones first impression could be that it includes important information about the book. Viewers that attempt to read the text that rolls over the screen are likely to be baffled by the speed at which the text flies by. The viewer will most likely not be able to finish reading a sentence before another starts. This could be a way of making the point that the Internet, if used wrongly (or correctly?), easily can distract its readers from the message that one is trying to present.

The source code of the site can tell us that “50 Million Minds Diverted, Distracted, Devoured” is meant as a website-slogan, but this slogan is completely overshadowed by the massive picture and the animated text on the front page. This is quite ironic, because it actually underlines the very meaning of the slogan. The three D’s, Diverted, Distracted and Devoured, emphasizes different aspects of Mark Bauerlein’s argumentation. Diverted and distracted overlap somewhat in meaning, as this is when something or someone’s original action or intention is changed by outside factors. Devoured is a more negatively loaded word, which, in this context, implies that something is destroyed or “swallowed whole”. It is no coincidence that devoured is the last word in the sentence. This is the word that sticks with the reader, and it is quite a statement from Bauerlein. What he actually implies by this is that, not only are we in very little control of our own actions, additionally we are destroying our very minds.

These three D’s also play on the title of the book, “The Dumbest Generation”. The main page displays the cover of the book with its title totally dominant. The word “Dumbest” is in a distinct red-colour. The red colour can symbolize many things; Stop, Danger, Blood, Love, Indians and Communism. The colour also works as an emphasis of a word which he clearly has chosen to provoke readers. The red is also repeated in the flash-animation at the top and the subtitle “How The Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future”. We can also find the red color in the picture of The Stars and Stripes in the center of the cover. We could interpret the use of red as a connotation for the American flag, which again could be a metaphor for the American people.

The title of the book is a spoof on the well known trope “The Greatest Generation”, which refers to the generation that grew up during the Depressions and also fought in the Second World War. The spoof is made clearer when taking a closer look at the picture with the flag. The invasion and capturing of the Japanese island named Iwo Jima, was one of Americas greatest triumphs in the Second World War. This was also an important symbolic victory as it was the first capture of Japanese land. The battle of Iwo Jima was immortalized with the famous picture “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” 2. Mr. Bauerlein has made a parody of that picture and replaced the soldiers that most people remember as heroes, with toy soldiers or more precisely Transformers. The reason for choosing transformers might be to prove American youngsters ignorance when it comes to their own country’s history. Mark Bauerlein would probably like to argue that most youngsters looking at the cover would recognize the Transformer figures but not necessarily recognize their own country’s old heroes. He might also have chosen to flip the picture horizontally to symbolize the two extremes, The Greatest Generation and the Dumbest Generation.

The warning label on the cover is a provenance3 that can usually be seen on album covers, and Mark Bauerlein’s thought behind the use of this could be that people might be offended by this book. The label clearly states “Don’t trust anyone under 30”, and here he is referring to the slogan “Don’t trust anyone over 30” used in the sixties by young people who had lost their faith in adults.

What Bauerlein is saying is sometimes rather harsh, but he would not have made his point if he had called the book “The somewhat stupid generation”. I feel that Mark Bauerlein makes some really good points to support his theory that technology and the modern way of living are deteriorating young minds. There simply is not anything that can compete with socializing and web browsing. The usual way of measuring competence and intellect by testing reading and writing skills, or history knowledge, might need to be reformed with the new dumbified Google-generation. One does not need to know anything, when Google always has the answer.

References:

1: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Simpsons#Lisa_on_Ice_.5B6.08.5D

2: http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/nativeamerican01/flag.html

3: Gunther Kress and Theo Van Leeuwen, Multimodal Discourse: The modes and media of contemporary communication (New York: Hodder Arnold, 2001), 23.

987 Words

Publisert av: thimmis | februar 16, 2009

Assignment 2 – guide to uib 2

In this assignment we were to collect the different sites that all the students had made, and make it easier for users to find the information they needed.
start-thomas.html

I did this by browsing through the different sites made, and found the similarities between the different sites. This made me group the sites into 5 categories;
– Studentsenteret
– Upihl
– HF-bygget
– SV-bygget
– Diverse

I needed a Diverse-group to limit the number of categories. Some of the sites had a theme that would not easily fit into the other categories i had made.

Publisert av: thimmis | januar 27, 2009

Automated creativity

I came across this article I enjoyed, which might also be related to what were studying at HUIN105.

http://justcreativedesign.com/2009/01/28/who-needs-skills-we-have-software/

Publisert av: thimmis | januar 25, 2009

Facebook

HUIN105 uses Facebook as a way to reach the students.
I think its a good idea to use Facebook as an addition to the ususal way of students communicating.

I am one of few who doesn’t use Facebook at all. And as a student studying Information science some might find it odd that I have no profile at Facebook.
The reason for my skepticism against Facebook is because i doubt the safety of the information that is stored there. I have often read about how easy it is to access others useraccounts. And as Facebook evolves, more and more intricate data might be stored about people. Thats why i took a stand and said that I wouldn’t use Facebook anymore(Yes, i had an account once…), although I miss it sometimes.
That is also why I think that Facebook should only be used as an addition to the usual form of communication, and not as a primary or single solution.

Facebook

Publisert av: thimmis | januar 25, 2009

HUIN105

I chose HUIN105 because I have some experience with webdesign from before and I would like to delvelope my skills further on.

Out of the few options i considered, this course stood out as the only one that really interested me.

Publisert av: thimmis | januar 23, 2009

Hello world!

My first blogpost ever! I’m so glad I’m finally part of the social network! I never read blogs, but that might change after this course.

I believe that blogging has the potential to compete with the big newspapers. Newspapers nowadays are only concerned with making profit, especially the online versions. This affects the articles they publish.
Just take a look at two of Norway’s biggest newspapers online version, how many articles are news and not just gossip about celebrities:
dagbladet.no
vg.no

I just found this amazing blog you all should try out. He truly is a genious: poteten.wordpress.com

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