My Reflection on the Process of Creating a Weblog

This was my first experience of writing a weblog out to an unknown audience. It’s interesting to image communicating through mass media for anyone to read. I think it’s a process that does come naturally to us to a certain extend in today’s age of constant self-publication through social media however to share something more meaningful and interesting that simply what I have done during the day was very interesting and it would be interesting to see if it does gain much attention from anyone on the internet.

Regarding design I gained many skills I did not have before. Through gaining knowledge from different theorists and experts on document design I have learnt the important or restraint repetition and the contrast of different colours and how this can affect the readers ability to easy read and absorb the information that you are trying to provide for them. Unfortunately my skills in the way of technology still have a lot of improving to do, to the point where I had created a blog previously that I was not able to access again but it’s all a learning curve when you are creating material online.

Blogging is a fantastic new source of information available for us. It allows everyone to try their hand at independent journalism. Though this means we often to have to sort through a large level of material that we have no interest in it also gives us access to information we never would have been able to enjoy before. It’s also interesting to read things from people’s personal point of view. Opinionated articles interest me just as much as objective ones particularly if it’s from an educated professional author.

Two of my favourite blogs randomly picked for your enjoyment!

The first blog I wish to share called “10 things in school that should be obsolete” by Greg Stack, and is about how the school system needs to be updated to accommodate the massive changes in information sourcing and social connectivity of today. I think the reason this article appealed to me and interested me so much is being a child of the 90s and being in the school system from 1998-2010, I got to see and experience firsthand the changes in the way we access information at school and at home. It seems strange to put I remember the world before social media, where we called our friends on the home phone, until someone needed the internet so we had to hang up so they could use the dial up! I remember the changes in high school, the teachers trying to maintain control over our concentration while smart phones, social media sites etc were being introduced into our short attention holding minds. The world nowadays is full of distractions and the school systems are struggling to keep up. The blog also has an interesting take on the actual structures of schools and how they fit with modern day learning from the obsoleteness of libraries to more cost effective use of corridor space.

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/07/10-things-in-school-that-should-be-obsolete/

The next article interested me greatly because I think the idea is absolutely brilliant and I know it will take off in the near future. The author of this blog is basically introducing a new element to online shopping. Though there are plenty of advantages to online vs actually walking into a retail store there are many aspects of shopping that buying online can still not provide. You often find yourself sifting through hundreds and hundreds of products particularly with clothes without the direction that can be provided with the help of a sales assistant when actually walking into a store. We often need this guidance especially with technical products like computers or a mobile. Kent Deverell, the Author of this blog has come up with a way of combining modern technology already at our disposition to almost create this sales assistant type of help. By using a phone app, created by this man you will be able to talk to your phone/tablet etc. in the way many of us already communicate with “Siri”. We can ask the app “I need to find a pink formal dress that is suitable to wear to a wedding” and it will assist you in sifting through all the products available online. Genius!!!

http://asmarterplanet.com/blog/2014/04/cognitive-computing-2.html

5 ways to Integrate Prose and Graphics

According to (Schriver 1997 p.412) there are 5 key relationships among pros and pictures:
Redundant- providing a repetition of key ideas through by using almost identical content visually and verbally. Research has shown that peoples comprehension of ideas is improved if key points are presented both visually and verbally. Taking information in more than way one increases the likelihood that the viewer will remember it.
Complementary- Involves using different content visually and verbally in order to understand key ideas. Though the content is different is must complement each other in order to help the reader understand the main idea.
Supplementary- when words and pictures are arranged in a way in which one is dominant to direct the reader towards the main idea and the other content elaborates the ideas in a way that supports the information. Supplementary relationships can be employed to elaborate key points that need to be put under spotlight for the readers to help clarify the main idea.
Juxtaposition- where different ideas are created through a clash of tension between the ideas behind the content and pictures. Both pros and graphics must be presented simultaneously to prevent the reader from being able to infer the intended message.

Shriver, Karen A 1997, The interplay of words and pictures, Whiley Computer Pub, New York

Visual Mapping and Cultural Authority: Design changes in US newspapers, 1920-1940-an article written by John Nerone

This is a short yet interesting article about the time period where the was a real shift in the design and layout of newspapers. It was around the 1920’s-1930’s in America when the main newspapers made a shift and took control of the densely crowded and animated design that had been used, to a more streamline clean look. The new calm rational face of newspapers was an expression of new professionalism and authority taken on by journalists and designers alike. The modern day newspaper was designed to make the reader feel that they can really get to a level of understanding of all the chaos that is going on in the world.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1995.tb00726.x/abstract

“Real Adventurers read maps” – An article from the New York Times, by Steve Kurutz

This is an opinionated article on the authors opinion of using a GPS system vs road maps. There’s no secret that road maps are a dying resource with bookstores scaling down to very few or none to sell. But is this always a good thing? Steve Kurutz the author of the New York Times article he still prefers the experience of using a road map particularly when going on a long trip or travelling with a companion and states two main reasons for this. The first is that when choosing the single most efficient route to your desired destination, a GPS excludes other routes and destinations that you may not have realized you have the desire to see. I do have to agree with him on this some of the most magical and most loved destinations I have found have come across purely by accident and having an adventurous nature. His other main reason is the interaction between the driver and the navigator that is lost with the use of a GPS. When driving through foreign areas with only the assistance of a map, travelers must work together as a team and your ability to get along and solve problems is tested in a valuable way. GPS eliminates the issue of getting lost but it also removes the thrill of personal challenge. Again I would agree with him on this statement but looking at it both ways it also eliminates the almost unavoidable arguments and tension that can come along with trying to find the right direction while driving!

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/using-maps-vs-gps.html?_r=0

What are some of the issues you need to consider when designing text for the web?

Online documents are harder for an audience to read than when viewing something from paper. According to (Parker 2003 pp. 270-275) there are a few main reasons for this. The first is that when you are reading off a screen your reading from a projected light which is hard for the eye to focus on for a long time and causes eye fatigue. When reading from a printed piece of paper you are actually looking at the reflected light from the natural light surrounding us, bouncing off the colours of the page which is much easier to absorb.
There is also a much more limited space for text as when your reading from a page its generally a vertical layout however on a screen page it must be horizontal. You don’t want your audience to have to constantly scroll up and down to follow the page, however if you try to fit an entire page on a screen it becomes far too small to comfortably read from. Multi-column layouts are also something that must be avoided as again this would require the reader to scroll up and down making it easy to loose track of where you are or to quickly skim back to clarify certain points.

Parker, Roger C 2003, Designing Documents for web distribution, Paraglyph Press, Scottsdale

Apple vs Microsoft: which interface do you prefer- an article by Ed Bott for the Ed Bott report

Everyone has an opinion on the Apple vs Mac debate however the problem is that most use one regularly and have rarely or never used the other. As it turns out however these is a close to perfect test you can use to compare the two companies approach to interface design. Both Microsoft and Apple recently released significant updates to their digital photo management/editing programs in the past year which are easy to analyse and compare against each other. The main interface is almost identical in format and both companies have settled to reflect on much larger cleaner design principles.

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Editing photos is surprisingly much clearer and easier in the new Microsoft software. The choses in the edit tab appear by default when a picture is uploaded and are very clear and easy to navigate. Though the Mac program offers a larger range of editing options, they are not as easy to access and need a bit of time to find and figure out how to use.

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There used to be a time where comparing Microsoft programs to Apple was like comparing chalk to cheese. But as Microsoft have adopted the less is more simplicity approach and Apple have taken on more advanced software, the differences are becoming less and less with each update.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/apple-vs-microsoft-which-user-interface-do-you-prefer/3887

Six Important Factors in Good Document Design

When designing the layout of a document there are many things one needs to put into consideration. Part of the challenge is that there are no specific universal rules to it, but having said that there are many scholarly theories and principles that you can experiment with. According to (Parker 1990 p. 2-19) The 6 main design principles to focus on are proportion, direction, consistency, restrain and detail/relevance.

Proportion refers to the size of the graphic elements on the page eg the title, pictures and body of text. The size of a graphic element should be proportionate to its relevance. The direction of a documents design refers to how well the reader is guided through the page in order of what they should be viewing first. “Good design provides a roadmap guiding readers from point to point” (Parker 1990 p. 9). Consistency involves using restraint when it comes to different fonts, margins and other design elements to create a continuing format from the beginning to end. This won’t make your pages boring, but it will make them symmetrical and much more professional. Contrast is a very important aspect of document design gives life to the page, makes it attractive to the reader and makes the important features stand out from the rest. Strong contrast in the colours and boldness of different elements has a high impact on the visual effect and keeps the reader interested. Restraint is probably one of the hardest design principles to apply but also one of the most important. An overly busy page is a confusing page and one that will never have a positive effect on the reader’s absorption of information. White/empty space is incredibly important and must be used. However tempting it is to use as many eye catching elements as possible, a good design has a few basic ones that enhance your message you are trying to communicate. Finally the fine detail of your document design must always be paid close attention to. The smallest detail can completely throw off the outlook of a page. Slight inconsistencies with the placing of elements/spaces between texts will stand out straight away and can take away and can completely ruin the effectiveness on the page. So always check over and have others look at the design before publishing, to make sure that any small discrepancies are fixed.

Parker, R 1990, Looking good in print : a guide to basic design for desktop publishing Ventana Press, Chapil Hill, NC

What sort of things should a writer consider before putting pen to paper?

Before a writer begins scrolling their thoughts and ideas for the world to see, the audience that they are targeting needs to be considered. The challenge here is that with mass communication the audience is often unknown to the author. According to Allan Bell in his article “The language of News Media”, the audience is the most important and most researched component of mass communication. It’s hard to know where to begin when in the age of internet; an audience is anywhere that technology allows.
“If it is difficult to say who the sender is in mass communication, it is much more difficult to say who the communicator is actually communicating with” (Burger 1984 p.30).
However having said that the great thing with communicating through things like social media is the instant feedback through comments through comments “likes” etc. so don’t ignore these use them to gain a better understanding of your audience!

http://www2.media.uoa.gr/lectures/linguistic_archives/mda0405/notes/Bell_Media_and_Language.pdf

“A note to our readers”- An article from the New Yorker

The New Yorker was founded by Harold Ross ninety years ago. If he were still with us today he would be amazed at the ways in which journalism has changed. There was once a time when the magazine relied solely on the U.S mail for reproduction and distribution but ever since the website was opened in 2001 there has been a complete switch in the way viewers read the articles which has created a huge change in appearance, content and access. Because of the shift from viewer access simply being from magazines to tablets, mobiles and computers a whole new focus now has to be placed on the document design for each difference medium. Although all these change creates challenges the advantages naturally weigh them out. For one it allows their viewers to access information almost immediately after is is collected and collaborated by the author. We live in an age where people want to know what is happening and they want to know it now and businesses must compensate to this. It also allows subscribers to archive and revisit articles with ease from now to all the way back to 2007, something that would have cost a great lot of time and resources to do before.

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http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/07/28/note-readers