Thursday, August 27, 2009

Maybe I need a new look, with fewer words

My home page has grown and grown since its early incarnations at Wordle: Dr. Bob Stepno UNC and Mindspring. I really should break it into a less verbose, multi-page, standards compliant, CSS supported, thoroughly modern website. But it works as-is, even on my Palm TX and my OLPC XO, and there are so many other things to do... including teaching a couple batches of students to do a better job of staying up to date.

But I did try pumping all that text into Wordle to see what would happen, as a "cool Web 2.0 tools" demo for my class. The result isn't bad as a self-portrait, but I think it needs more music and dancing. Kinda like my life.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Are you a Web designer? Sure.

Just in time for my fall course on Web design, author, Peachpit book-publishing company blogger and Web designer Jason Cranford Teague has a nice overview of the state of site-building today, under the title "Everyone is a Web Designer."

He lists skills Web designers do and don't need today, differences between being a "Web designer" and a "professional Web developer," and the need for designers to "understand what a developer does and how they are doing it."

Something similar is going on at online newspapers and related forms of journalism: Depending on the size of the organization, one person doesn't always have to do everything. But team members need to know each other's abilities, responsibilities and needs. Some are Web designers, Web developers, database-savvy journalists, "backpack journalists" with multimedia skills, or editors responsible for quality control and pulling it all together.

Speaking of backpack journalism, here's an online example of what a couple of "text-oriented" journalists accomplished in their first day using an inexpensive audio recorder and digital camera, a free audio-editing program (Audacity) and an inexpensive slideshow-creation program (Soundslides). Their (ok, our) training was part of a Freedom Forum Diversity Institute "bootcamp" earlier this month.

Also just in time for my new Web design course, I stumbled on a Ze Frank video from a few years ago that you might call "a meditation on contemporary Web aesthetics." I call it "don't be ugly."