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   Friday, September 05, 2003  
MA / blogosphere paper

Modifying the Template

Kathryn mentioned in the comments the other day that one of the reasons people put images on their blogs is purely because they make them look good. I think this is very valid point. I've been thinking about blog templates this week- why some people choose to modify them and why some people choose not to. There is an obvious factor here, of course, relating to how confident the person is in their html but I think it's more than this. I've heard people argue both points of view- that they will never read a blog where the author hasn't bothered to personalise the look of it at all, and I've also heard it argued (although I must admit I can't remember where) that the content is the most important thing with a blog and the look shouldn't matter.

Using images is clearly a good way of defining your territory and differentiating your site from anyone elses. These are my loved ones. Here is my neighbourhood. This is how I'm different from everyone else. And I think it's very much in human nature to want to pretty things up a bit. Most of the modifications we make to our homes are probably entirely for aesthetic reasons. But I suppose it acts as an expression of self. Like clothing.

This weekend I've got to sit down and really evaluate what it is that I want to write about. I would still very much like to include some comic strip elements in the final paper- I wonder how well that would go down? It seems like a very unacademic approach, but I've been reading Scott McCloud recently and he is very persuasive about not seeing comics as "low art."

I'm also going to write up a survey and post it on this site about why and how people use images on their sites.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:52 AM
   

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animation

Wacom

DF has lent me his Wacom tablet (I'm going to use it for the Tropfest project Petite, La Spin and I are working on). I installed the driver last night and then spent far too long playing with it when I should have been reading Guy Debord.

Thought about doing a short animated piece for each letter of the alphabet, just to try and get used to using the tablet. I got as far as 'A'. And even though Simon has recently requested a return to animated gifs, I must admit that this is in Flash.
And I know that I can't draw armadillos.

amanda animation
(you'll need Flash 6. If you don't have it, don't worry. You're not missing much.)
   posted by *mcb* at 8:31 AM
   

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   Thursday, September 04, 2003  
diary

Bomb Threat

Some time ago at work I pulled the short straw and ended up as one of the fire wardens. They promised me a hat, a whistle and an axe. I have yet to see any of these items. I particularly want the axe. And the whistle. The hat I'm not so keen on.

Yesterday all the fire wardens in the building had to meet together for a training session on bomb threats and use of extinguishers (two topics, not how to use an extinguisher during a bomb threat.) Our trainer, an ex-fireman, said to us "Do you know how many bomb threats there are in Melbourne every day?" There was a silence and someone eventually said "Twenty". "Higher" said the ex-fireman. "Thirty-five to forty. Every day." He paused and looked at us. "The media doesn't report most of them because you know what would happen then? Copy cat calls." Ah yes, we nodded.

"I bet you didn't know that last week there was a bomb threat in Bourke St and the whole CBD was closed for several hours. There was a suitcase left outside a hotel. It had a Melbourne airport sticker on it. Worse still, it was covered in Arabic writing. The fireman paced. "It turned out that the case belonged to a guest staying in the hotel. One of our ethnic friends. He'd decided he didn't want the case anymore and left it down on the street."

"We had another incident last week where a courier dropped off a parcel to an office. No one in the office was expecting a parcel. The courier company whose sticker was on the parcel was called. No, they hadn't sent them a parcel. The bomb squad was called, the building was evacuated. The parcel was filled with computer components that weren't even meant to be delivered to that office."
He looked at us.
"We live in difficult times." he said.
"We live in times where people think everything is a bomb" I thought.

He gave us a card that we are supposed to keep by the phone in case someone phones through a bomb threat. This is unlikely to happen to me, as our work has a central switchboard, so unless the bomber asks specifically to speak to me, I probably won't get a chance to ask him / her any of the questions. And I do so long to. I want to ask "where did you put the bomb?" (q2) and "Why did you place the bomb?" (q8) and my favourites "What is your name?" and "What is your address?" The fireman said "You'd be surprised how many people answer those questions."

"Who do you think looks for the bomb?" he asked us. "The bomb squad?" said someone. No "The police?" No. "YOU look for the bomb." he said "Because you know the building best." That was it for me. When we returned to our office I said to the people in my area "I think I should tell you now that I intend to panic if there is a bomb. I will not remain calm. I will run around with my arms in the air yelling "Bomb! Bomb!" Don't expect me to go looking for it. Because I won't. I'll be out the door."

They told me I would never get a whistle or an axe with that attitude.
I don't care.

   posted by *mcb* at 8:46 AM
   

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   Wednesday, September 03, 2003  
MA / blogosphere paper

Visual Blogs

So I'm thinking that these are some of the reasons people put images in blogs:

1. because it relates to their profession (like Loobylu) and the blog is partly a portfolio of their work

2. it relates to their field of study (erh.. like me, for want of a better example)

3. it relates to a hobby or interest (Photography. Cartooning. Fine Art {like Giornale Nuovo: fine arts Archives as suggested by Boynton} )

4. they have chosen to use images instead of words to tell their stories (photoblogs)

5. the images illustrate the words (Manila)

6. the images are an integral part of the "project" (I'm thinking of Obsessive Consumption here, which Petite reminded me of. I wonder if this could be considered a blog? I hope so.)

7. are part of a collaborative project (I can't think of any egs of this, but I'm sure there must be some.)

8. are a way of personalising the site, of defining who you are. (images of the blogger's family, their pets, the things in their neighbourhood. Images not really taken with artistic intentions, more record-making.)

9. To "advertise" a link to their audience (like wood s lot or boing boing )

Damn. Can't think of a tenth one just now. I'm sure there are more reasons. I'll come back to it.

10. Ah! I just remembered the one suggested in the comments from yesterday. (thanks) To present a particular agenda of importance to the blogger (not necessarily a political one- could be artistic or technical etc.)

I've also started thinking about the way that people modify the templates provided by blogging apps (with Blogger you HAVE to start with a template) but I'll talk more about that later.


   posted by *mcb* at 8:55 AM
   

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diary

Vietnam

Well, Thieu has gone to Vietnam for two weeks to visit a friend. This is good for him, but bad for me because

1. he's having a holiday and I'm not
2. I shall miss him. A lot.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:35 AM
   

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   Tuesday, September 02, 2003  
animation

Snowman Animation

I found this yesterday:TMX presents: How To Build A Snowman. Unfortunately, it's been crunched down rather severely to fit on the web and so the picture is not very clear, but I still found it most amusing, particularly the part where the child's arms fall off.

But that might just be me.
   posted by *mcb* at 1:48 PM
   

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Masters-
chat / blogosphere paper


Photoblogs


GG

So, how is the research going?

QA
GG
Well, I've been thinking about the kinds of images that people put on their blogs, in particular the photos.
QA
GG
I think most photo blogs are pretty banal.
QA
GG
You would say that. However, I do think that often the images seem to be part of a series, and are not really intended to stand on their own. They are best thought of as small elements of something larger, I think.
QA
GG
Kind of like how a digital image is made up of discrete units of information? You know, like pixels?
QA
GG
Kind of. Their value comes from the fact that they are part of an ongoing concern. The element of disclosure over a period of time seems important with photoblogs. It's like being given one piece of a jigsaw each day.
QA
GG
Well, I suppose that fits with the nature of weblogging in general, doesn't it? It's kind of "death of the masterpiece". Or at least the masterpiece in the form we're used to thinking about.
QA
GG
Well yes. Digital cameras have really changed photography. Images are so easy to make, so expendible, that they are almost valueless on their own. They become like a single frame from a movie.
QA
GG
I think I see what you mean. In the old days, people used to go on holidays and take a maybe a couple of rolls of film and have them developed at some point after they returned.
QA
GG
Then they'd be put in a photo album.
QA
GG
Exactly. And now digital cameras mean that people take hundreds of shots, often of things that perhaps with a film camera they wouldn't bother to try and record.
QA
GG
And most of them will never make it into a hard copy format at all.
QA
GG
Do you think we've stopped believing in the perfect shot? Or in the value of the perfect shot?
QA
GG
Dunno. But it's interesting that so many photoblogs seem to focus on the minutiae, the up close, the fragment.
QA
GG
Well, the writing in blogs is like that too, I guess.
QA
GG
Exactly. The scale is small and intimate in many blogs and so these small images, of small things, fit right in.
QA
GG
Interesting.
QA


(thanks to Simon for the polaroid photoblog link.)
   posted by *mcb* at 8:26 AM
   

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   Monday, September 01, 2003  
MA / blogosphere paper

Visual Blogs

And now I'm starting to wonder if you can call something a blog just because it has sequential entries, uploaded gradually over a period of time. Can something be a blog even if the creator doesn't necessarily see it this way?Craig Metzger has a section of his site called Day in Day out where he uploads "daily doodles and photos." I think I'll have to watch and see just how frequently the images are added before I can tell if this could count as a blog or not.
   posted by *mcb* at 3:05 PM
   

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MA / blogosphere paper

Starting

Spring! (finally.)

Spent the weekend catching up on various tasks that needed to be done and wondering about how I'm going to accomplish all the things I've committed to over the next couple of months. Should be interesting. I finally got the image done for the library conference (and I'll post it on this site once I've had the go ahead). Big relief. Then I spent Sunday trying to get through some of the huge mountain of books the frontier librarian borrowed for me from her work. Trouble was, my hands kept on picking up "I Capture the Castle" and shoving that in fron of my face, even though my brain sternly berated them.

Still, I made a few notes and thought a bit about what I want to do with the paper. I'd really like to include some Grumpy Girl / Questioning Ant sections but I suspect that the inclusion of comics in academic papers is not a common practice.

Also thought about some of the blogs that use visual materials that I would like to include in the paper- I'd love to include Loobylu because I like the way she not only posts examples of what she's been working on but sometimes actually illustrates her posts. I'd also like to use American Elf as a comic blog and harrumph as a photoblog (there are lots of photoblogs to choose from, of course.) It would also be good to include Scott Mc Cloud especially now as he has restarted the The Morning Improv.

What I'm missing is an "fine art blog". Yesterday I thought "Hey I could use the 1000journals project until I remembered that it's not a blog, although it would be perfect in many ways because it uses actual journals. Maybe I can find a way of working it in anyway. I'm going to have a look on the International Digital Art site and see if any of the contestants have blogs.

If anyone else has any favourite blogs that use visual material really well, please let me know.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:25 AM
   

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