Sunday, November 15, 2009

MX: Reading response #1 (page 63-78)

This reading presented a lot of things to think about and was quite enlightening in terms of historical development of the World Wide Web and it's sequencing, cultural metaphors and differences.
The "cut and paste" metaphor the reading talks about goes back to the class discussion we had recently. Even though it is referencing a physical action of putting something in a different place, it is used for a all kinds of digital media: you "cut and paste" text from one document to another and you "cut and paste" video files and links.

The reading talks about the difference between two different types of relationship between content and interface. In earlier websites and interfaces the accessible data is already there at the time of access, other websites generate data during the user's presence on the given website. This made me think of the interactive project we did in Sound and Motion. We were creating a set of guides for the user, but had no idea what they were going to do with it. The mentioned Tamagotchi toy is a great example too. I remember it being something that was taking a life of its own, instead of following the set commands.

The paragraph about the computer being a tool vs a separate media was quite interesting to me. It makes me think of our current project and how it will be viewed and assessed by users. The computer was for a long time viewed as a replacement of the typewriter, that was essentially a tool for printing text. I remember that in the mid '90s my friends would send me drawings printed out from what now seems to be prehistoric program Paint. That was the definition of computer art for me and many people. Websites resembled physical pages that sequentially displayed information. (I thought that the way the author talked about print was a pretty superficial and general analysis. Print is not always linear, it's not always a rectangular physical object that displays information in a sequence. While trying to describe the innovations of digital media, the author generalized other mediums that he labeled "print" and "cinema".) The newer versions introduced hyperlinking (hypermedia) that makes all components of the page equal in hierarchy. This is relevant to our current project that allows the user access information that appeals to him most. It is usually a display of works that lets the viewer explore in a non-linear fashion.

The concept of the web being a flat surface with information presented in a random order can be connected to my portfolio idea that is essentially a surface with works presented on it. The article also does a pretty good job of comparing the "pages" to previously designed ways of presenting a sequencing information. The comparison of the webpage to a papyrus scroll was smart and innovational!

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