March 2010 Archives

Small Town Commerce

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After some thinking (and not to mention my instructor commenting on the exact issue I was concerned with), I have decided to use avoid using thomasedison.org for my final project. While it truly needs some work, its does not have extensive content for me to work with. Therefore, I have decided I will use prelawhandbook.com.

When looking at the website, there are multiple issues that must be addressed. This website is slightly unique in its use of headings. The website over uses headings where new pages should be created or sections could be combined to provide more meaningful headings.

The text is not broken by any visual aids or other design choices, which makes the headings and bullet points even more overwhelming. Redish suggests using photos and graphics in order to evoke an emotion. This website is encouraging readers to pursue law, which it makes clear is a difficult field. A professional picture may encourage uses to remember their goals, not just the difficulties ahead of them.

When we look at the website links, they seem to be easily understood to users, but the order is interesting. The "appendix" page is presented in the middle of all the webpages. One would assume this would be somewhere at the end of the choices. May of these links to webpages could also be combined, such as "When and Where to Apply to Law School" and "Applying to Law School." When we look at the in-text links, they are overwhelmingly frequent. Therefore, it seems as if some links are repetitive.

The Thomas Ed.son Organization Website

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On of the worst websites I have used has been the website dedicated to Thomas Edison by the Thomas Edison Organization. The website is full of exciting and frequent animations, but the layout and format of the text suffers as a cost of the graphic overuse. While I am still contemplating whether or not the website supports poor enough web-writing to use it as a final project it, I am considering it. If I do use this website, I will focus on the home page, the foundation overview page, and the introduction to why Edison is important today page.

First, as I have already mentioned, the graphics on this site are overwhelming. The user confronts a huge issue when they use the home page. There are "links" in a swirling pattern, which also gets smaller in font size as it continues to swirl. Some links are even upside down! However, the links cannot be clicked on. This causes much confusion for the user. The way information is presented to the users in the text is poorly communicated. Because of the typography, the user may have a difficult time understanding what this site is about, who it created it, and why they should use it. From reading the Web Style Guide, it is determined that fonts and the overall presentation of the text plays an important role. The home page makes it very clear that this is not a "grab and go" website. Users must take a significant amount of time to discover the information they need.

Secondly, the foundation overview page presents an issue similar the the UMN Writing Studies website. The user is presented with a letter, which is clearly not a conversational use of the site. The text is shown in a small section of the page with small font size. Users must also scroll although there is a whole page of empty space.

Thirdly, I will consider working with the introduction to why Edison is important. The information on this page is presented awkwardly. Over half the page is taken up by links that are in a swirling and shrinking link pattern. The page gives very little information to the user, and the information that is presented is in a single paragraph. If this information would be broken up, the user may find it more effective.

As I have already mentioned, I am not sure if I will use this for my final project or not. It seems to be quite an interesting website, but it may take some additional exploring to fully determine whether this is the best choice for a final project.

YouTube and Podcasts

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At first glance, youtube and podcasts may not seem to be related to writing at all. After thinking about it for a little while, I realized that their impact on writing, and communication in general, is quite extensive. I would argue that apps such as these are causing less of a need for written communication, on the web or otherwise. While both writing and podcasts or YouTube have their pros and cons, they work best while used together. Writing tends to be a longer process, but it allows for optimal editing and thought. Making a podcast or youtube video seems to be a quicker option, but it lacks the ability to edit every word that is said. Putting together the ease of YouTube and podcasts with a written script can be a very influential and useful tool.

So, how has all of this changed our understanding of writing on the web? It has shifted our attention from text based information to a broader understanding of writing and communication. In some ways, I think we are more likely to consider smaller sections of text as "writing" when we would have previously never categorized it as writing. In addition, we can now pair writing with visual presentation, such as here. In essence, we can present information with a powerpoint visual element without ever being there. This is particularly helpful with "how to" videos.

Overall, I think the YouTube and podcasts are a important part of communication and have minimized the need for extensive and overly descriptive writing (especially when giving instructions). There is a formality to writing though that YouTube and podcasts cannot live up to, which is why these kinds of communication can only go so far. While they are a popular way to communicate, I highly doubt they will be as integrated in our communications as email or other writing technologies.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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