Monday, October 23, 2006


Up the 'River' Without a Paddle

I originally planned to spend this week's activity on the 'Experimenting with Regular Expressions.' Several hours of frustration and questioning by intellect, or lack thereof and I moved on instead to the exercise on taglines. I thought I may be at a disadvantage since I came into the class after some tagline aspects had already been discussed and also because taglines seem to play a larger (i.e. existant) role in the Public History program.

Regardless, I really enjoyed looking at the different ways that taglines have been used. The most interesting part of the Micah Dubinko article was the links to other visual information sites including Map the the Market, The Shape of Song, and Moodstats. I did not find the article itself particularly interesting and several of the links he referenced did not work, making hard to fully understand his perspective.

In Flickr I found the 'river' visual too fast moving. Also, the pictures continued to move after I had paused the flow when the mouse hovered on them. In general I found the visual to be unclear and hard to follow. The 'waterfall; feature was more clear although still not very interesting visually, not because of lack of movement but because of the small photos.

I did find it interesting that the river observed tagline popularity changing with time, while the waterfall conversely focused on what tags stay the same. I think this shows the two major themes of general historical study and thought; in history are we studying change or continuity. Both I would say but the Flickr options certainly highlight the difference of one from the other.

Map of the Market was slow to load but very fast once up. It had a clear legend, good use of colour, and relevant variables to display. By float mouse on sections you get thorough information including earnings and financials. You can refine the visual by selecting criteria including: gainers, losers, and changing colour scheme. The program also has a search option which gives many categories once a company is found such as news, quotes, competition, earnings, and financial reports.

The Shape of Song
would especially be interesting for those with more musical knowledge. The site has clear instructions, is not cluttered, and you can upload your own songs via MIDI file to add to the repertoire. The explaination of how diagrams work/are created help to understand the process behind the visual expression of the songs. The Images Gallery option shows several songs, their diagram and an explanation for the visual further aiding the musically impaired understand the links between the audio and visual aspects of the song.

Moodstats let's you enter daily data, the incentive being it allows you to track your moods. The installation process is somewhat long ans although the homepage says you get it free for 20 days to 'synchronize' you need a purchased serial number. The settings for mood categories are not very interesting to me visually; it looks like audio adjustments with slide pointers than you move to reflect your mood in each category per day. The program is not always clear i.e. how to save data, nor does the dark screen maximise forcing some eye squinting. In the site's defence you can add notes in each category, per day. Overall though I'd rather a pen and paper.

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