November 2008 Archives

The Very Short Report

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I enjoyed Kevin's and Jess's IF games. They both had plots I could understand and familiar places. Although I didn't play Jess's, I watched Alex play it and was really excited about the sword in the stone. Hopefully, I can play hers sometime later.

As for what I learned about my own, I had a few typos to get fix and I found the design was funky. I ended up taking out one of the borders on the chapters page and both borders on the homepage. Dr. Jerz said it would be better to focus on my writing anyway. I still have the code (hint) if Andrew still wants it. There are some problems with it I don't know how to fix though.

Thanks to Kevin, I was able to fix a broken link. Thanks to Jerz, I was able to link to the middle of pages or a heading in a page instead of the top of page. I've added more information and noticed sometimes the pictures load slowly. I'm pondering over how I can fix this. Anyone?

And, if anyone does look at my website again, any feedback would be helpful (even the positive stuff).

Alpha Reports

The Rebels Text: Progress Report

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For my term project, I am creating a hypertext website story about a novel I've already written or am in the process of writing. My goal is to bring my fiction to people (students and young adults) and keep them interested in the site enough to check back for updates and new chapters. I don't know yet how I would keep track of that though. I chose my most successful novel recently called Rebellion Run. Aside from the links on the main page, there are links within the chapters.

These links lead to:
  • Character Profiles
  • Descriptions of Rooms
  • People the Characters are based off
  • The next chapters
  • The previous chapters
  • And anything else that needs to be there
I realized, as I was working on it, I have all the problems of a story and a basic website. For a couple of hours, I worked on fixing my style sheet so, as of now, the website is not very pretty, but it is basic. I ran into some problems trying to change font, but it turned out I was off a letter in what I had named the stylesheet and what I linked the pages to.

I'd like to use a navigation bar across the top and add banners and colors down the side. I've been working on this, trying to figure it out, with some luck.

As for the story, there is the regular editing to do for grammar and etc. but there is also the editing for a hypertext fiction. This means I have to shorten the chapters by splitting them up, taking out useless information, and moving descriptions to other pages. I've already created several pages for "other" information and split up chapter one.

I wanted to pull from IA with pictures and audio, but I figure audio would be too hard. As of now, I already have a lot of design to put in it. Instead, I'll just do pictures of the settings and the people who inspired the characters first. We'll see how far I get with that before adding more detail.

In IA, I also liked how the interaction with the story was minimal and it kept of way of being linear. I'd like to do this with my story, but I want to add a little more for the users because I don't have the same moving graphics or audio. That is why I chose (what I think are) interesting informational links.

I also liked the abstracted-ness of The Body. I plan to use the anecdotes and personal touches the creator puts in there as inspiration for other pages on the Rebellion Run site. Perhaps sharing the inside jokes of me and my friends with the readers or information about the people the characters were spawned from. This site also uses images. But, at the same time, I do not want to make it as confusing as The University of the Yellow Wallpaper. I'll prevent this by keeping a concrete navigational system like Krug suggests in his usability book Don't Make Me Think.

If anyone is interested, I will upload it tonight.

When Thought Applies

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In Writing for the Internet recently, I have learned when to apply thought and when to use little thought. Thought should be applied when evaluating sources like Wikipedia and when creating a webpage for a user. But, a user should not have to think hard to understand the concept of the webpage. Most of my learning too place through Steve Krug's book Don't Make Me Think.

This is my third portfolio for the class, demonstrating what I have learned (above) in these past weeks. I had a lot of fun and gained valuable skills by learning about Interactive Fiction in class and usability testing through Krug as demonstrated through my blogging.



Other Students Portfolios

Krug's Great Lack of Thought

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Steve Krug's book Don't Make Me Think brought to light the way I do use sites and the way I should construct them to suit my audience like billboards. And, what I liked most about the book, was that I had a good time reading it. Not only was it informational and up-to-date, but it was not boring.

It was short and to the point, but did not lack anywhere in information. Anything that needed explaining was explained concisely. Also, the use of pithy quotes and play-on-words help to drive home the point and make it stick. For example, "happy talk must die" reminds me to get rid of filler words and the larger third law of usability. I know I will remember to always do this when I construct a website just because it's funny.

The book also did a good job of distilling rumors like the Average User. The way it was set up, proving all of its points with displays, left almost no room for argument, which is good for his business. The idea of usability testing is something that can apply to any product and is a cheap necessity for websites.

Don't Make Me Think has a business/persuasion aspect for the employees who would read it. The brevity also helps them not have to spend so much time outside of their job reading it. The pictures and wording also attracts younger readers like my class, who are learning how to create good websites, and others who want to start into the usability testing or just impress their boss.

My only criticisms, if Krug were to make another edition, would be to, of course, update websites and perhaps include other variations or great of positive websites than I realize this website does a lot of things right, but there must be another website that does things just as well. The second idea is as Jed said, "the book did not focus enough on usability testing itself." I wish there had been more of testing explained. I know that's what Krug does and he doesn't want to give away all the information, but I don't think a little more elaboration and examples would have hurt.

All in all, I enjoyed the book and, because so much thought was put into it, I didn't have to think hard to get the point or see what I needed to improve. Also, aside from a few examples, much of the information he gives us is timeless. Thanks!


Aja and The Island

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UPDATE: The IP address I used to edit the Wikipedia sites now has a history of vandelism! Both edits were undid at 8:35 and 8:39 this morning by Technopat. At least it wasn't my computer that I used. And, props to Wiki for jumping on those edits so quickly. I thought they wouldn't catch this for a while because they were such obscure topics. Maybe they are becoming more respectable.


At the bottom of the page Aja in the In Popular Culture section I added some info about me. Aja is the name of the Steely Dan album I was named after and I found that the section goes "the Ergs! recorded a song called "Aja" on their EP Jersey's Best Prancers. The song contained the lyrics: "I met a girl named Aja, she said her dad loved Steely Dan. I laughed and asked her if her sister's name was Katy.""

This has actually happened to me so I figure it might have been me. I followed that statement with the comment, "The "girl named Aja" was originally from Laurel, Maryland. She now resides in Greensburg, PA as a student at Seton Hill University. She has no relation to the porn star," which is directly above the comment, "Former porn star Aja took her stage name from the album."

Perhaps that was no significant enough of a subject to warrant attention. The next webpage I messed with or made a "meaningful contribution" to was The Island page, which is a connection of titles (plays, novels, songs, etc.) with the title The Island or similar wording.

On this page, I added my own book The Island to the list of literature. I wrote it a while ago, it's with an agent currently, and I'm hoping it gets published so its not a complete lie. But, there are so many failures in the creative writing business. This was my quote, "The Island (2008 novel), original title to the first novel in the Zarconian series by Aja Hannah." And I realize now there is no page for it as of yet.

So far the community has not reacted. From this experience, I learned that Wikipedia is far more ambiguous than I thought it was. I knew it was subject to change and that people could edit it. I still think that is a positive, but my opinion before has been enforced by the rules (or lack of them) that I have read. Also, I may not find the information I want on Wikipedia or it may take a while to get corrected. One just has to be wary.

For teachers, don't let students quote Wikipedia, but let them use it carefully as a starting point to find information or reliable sources. For fellow students, don't get lazy and quote Wiki ever. It's not bad to use it as a starting point or as a reference when talking to a friend about pop culture. Evaluate the info that you do get and find a reliable source to back-it-up. Remember that teachers will never think it is reliable or academic.


Historic Saint Vincent to Modern Seton Hill

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Dinosaur was my topic.

I've looked into Wikipedia's history and edit this page before so it wasn't as much of a shock, but I still wasn't expecting the great amount of changes presented. I am glad I took this class because the words at the bottom or end of each sentence I now recognize as html like "</div>". It may be hard for me to make edits to the page, but at least I have a basic understanding of where to start.

The discussion page was new for me though. I figure the discussion page is more about personal opinion and updated news that hasn't become reliable enough to go into an encyclopedia yet. I was surprised to see that the Dinosaur page was "one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community." Because of this, I could not edit the actual article without being an established registered user. I liked that I couldn't edit this page. It showed that Wikipedia has strengthened its rules at least with some articles.

The Saint Vincent page is much more about the history of the College and its traditions than it is about what it does now. The Seton Hill page has a clip about its history in the beginning, but spends most of its page on the different centers, programs, and alumni we have than the history.

I think it is beause its more geared toward the younger people who are likely to visit the Seton Hill page as prospective students. It wants to accomodate them by showing off its finest points about what is has to offer versus what tradtions and history it has (something a prosepective student surfing the web quickly probably won't want to read).

St. Vincent is also much briefer than Seton Hill's site. I think this is because they try to gear it to the older audience that would like to know more about its history than what new programs it has. Perhaps they have enough incoming students. For example, in history on the Saint Vincent page I found a section of text that had been taken out because "Wikipedia is not the news." The left out text was about the stats of the football team's first win in years.

After reading the text, I understood why they took it out (it was news), but I think they should have left some information in about when the St. Vincent had stopped having a team. The little amount of information made me feel confused or left out of the loop about what has happened recently, but I guess this little information conforms to Wikipedia's encyclopedia apporach and I should visit the website or another page for more information. I can't really say much more because I hardly know anything about St. Vincent College.

There was not much discussion or edits that I disagreed with on Seton Hill's page. It just reinforced the idea of not adding news like the new building being built in town and it kept the focus on its programs and looking professional.

I found another sub-section of Wikipedia too called WikiProject. So far I've seen them for Pennsylvania and Spoken Wikipedia. All these sub-sections are confusing, but they do benefit the site. I wonder if they are headed by anyone or just a group of people set out to make changes to better Wikipedia articles on certain topics.


Weird Pillar Pictures

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While reading Wikipedia's Key policies, I found it hard to concentrate and find the specific policies. I understood the six basic policies, but there were so many other links on the page that it took my attention away from what I should be learning before I start editing an article. There was so much information, but at the same time there was so little.

Wikipedia doesn't have a lot of rules or so it says. Nevertheless, someone can get punished even if "even if technically no rule has been violated" because there are written and unwritten rules that everyone must follow. Just because it isn't written doesn't mean it is allowed.

For example, I was confused about how a person doesn't "need to read Wikipedia's policies before [they] contribute" so I clicked on the link and it took me to Ignore All Rules. "If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it." This explains why it is so hard to figure out what people can and can't post on Wikipedia and why some people don't take it seriously. It's rules are jumbled up and confusing.

After looking at the Five Pillars, a user can better get the drift of the written laws. They are compacted into five helpful pillars. I think there are some really good rules there that, as long as one reads carefully, will help users from getting blocked like the three-revert rule. At the same time, there are still so many links it is doubtful a user will read all of the rules before editing especially since they have no test to pass before they sign up and start changing.

The best technique for people to use Wikipedia is to watch how Wikipedia is edited and examine the site and its users first so that you understand all the rules and know how to contribute before you actually start editing. From there it's just trial and error and, if you get blocked from editing because you violated a law, just create a new name, learn from your mistake, and keep editing. I don't know all of these rules, but I've watched Wikipedia a lot over the years so I hope I will be able to do well.

I was excited to find there were other Wiki things though like Wikimedia. I have seen a bunch of different Wiki sites, but I didn't know if they were related or if they had been ripped off by other people wanting popular websites. Also, did anyone else think the pillar pictures looked weird?


Why Can't They Leave Us Alone?

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In Orlowsky's There's No Wikipedia Entry for 'Moral Responsibility', I his pointed argument that Wikipedia has no morals and is "the banal reality of trashy, badly written trivia" to be clearly biased argument and slightly offensive. I don't like his generalizations or his sterotypes of a teenage kid with "acne [and] a lot of problems with authority..."

Many students use Wikipedia and, although it may not be an acedemic source, it has credible information about historical events, people, and places. It also is a compliation of loose facts, similar to an encyclopedia, that hasa place for links and references at the end of each section. I like the idea that people, anyone, could share information with everyone else. The reader just has to be careful about what they read and check their sources like a good reporter.

 Why don't informational internet sources make the reader work? Just like any other source, a person should double-check it to make sure it is right. Wikipedia is not in print and it's just as fallable as every other website. If the person gets in trouble for the wrong answer, why is it not their fault? Why do we shift the blame onto others? People should learn from it instead and take responsibility. I personally think that we are so dependent on the ease of the internet and instant communication that we haven't stopped to check if this is a good thing. Or if we have become lazy knowledge seekes.

Also, Wikipedia is not going to become a published book. If it did, it would have the cover, Wikipedia on the front, section headings for each topic and subtopic within the section, and then blank paper for the reader to fill in.

So I disagree with Orlowsky.

 As for the second article Is Wikipedia Becoming a Respectable Academic Source, I reviwed it in an early blog Everyone else is using it. Why aren't you? I believe that Wikipedia is used a lot of quick pop culture information and acedemic searches, but it isn't used in-depth. Nor do I think it should be used for deep, detailed research. It isn't that reliable, but if evaluated by the user, one may find the bibliographies or sources listed at the bottom helpful for research. I conclude that it is valuable and can be used acedemically (if used properly), but is not respected. Yet.


Pigs in a Circle

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I enjoyed the end to Krug's book. It was short and sweet, although I don't know if I'd actually ever show those letters to my boss. They're a little too insulting. But, then again, if my boss didn't know it was coming from me, I might use them. He made a good summation/disclaimer about his advice in the end. And the "That's all, folks" reminded me of Porky Pig in his circle, which in turn reminded me of how I've read about pigs recently in several of my classes. Weird.

I actually enjoyed Krug's book so much that I read through parts of the recommended reading and acknowledgements. And, if this space bar was working on this computer, I may have even looked up some sources, but now that someone broke it I'm just going to leave my blog short.


Recent Comments

Dennis G. Jerz on The Literary End: I like your observation that g
Cody Naylor on Bringing Back the Nom: Aja, i think a tin ear just me
Tyler J. Carter on Bringing Back the Nom: Very well put aja, and I did a
Jessie Krehlik on My Modifications: I'm with you, Aja. I learned a
Cody Naylor on Scan-able Text: hahahaha! Oh Aja, I LOVED how
Tyler J. Carter on Actin Out: I agree, and this is a valid p
Cody Naylor on Actin Out: I like your idea about varying
Aja Hannah on Children in Chairs: Well, "Humanities Divison Chai
Dennis G. Jerz on Children in Chairs: The word "chairman" brings its
Aja Hannah on The Graphs?: And I figured that, but nowada