The User Experience of Interactive Art: Boston CyberArts Festival 2005

Last week, an article in the NY Times named poor user experience as a barrier to engaging with several exhibits that are part of the Boston CyberArts Festival. The article focused more on how deeply frustrating the User Experiences were, rather than the quality of the artwork. I made a trip to see the exhibits this weekend; here's a summary of the article, photos of the exhibits, and a recap.

Online Magazines, the invasion.

Online magazines vs. printed magazines, I recently found that paper print does not provide the most recent info I want. Here is where I learned about online magazines that are way more up to date than regular printed issues.

Here are my latest findings:

Hintmag- Dedicated to fashion trends and lifestyles.

Web Site

Melomag-Creative art content: music, interviews, reviews.

Web Site

Groove Manifesto-Focused on design, visual culture and new media.

Web Site

Please add other online magazines that you think are interesting.

Cataloguing Cultural Objects: Guide to Describing Cultural Works

The Visual Resources Association has recently published the Cataloguing Cultural Objects (CCO) in the hopes of developing guidelines or standards for describing and retrieving information about cultural works.

CCO provides guidelines for selecting, ordering, and formatting data used to populate catalog records. CCO is designed to promote good descriptive cataloging, shared documentation, and enhanced end-user access. Whether used locally to develop training manuals, or universally as a guide to building consistent cultural heritage documentation in a shared environment, CCO will contribute to improved documentation and enhanced access to cultural heritage information.
Alertbox: Low-End Media for User Empowerment

The April 21 Alertbox is about keeping it simple - not a simple user interface, but simple media for the content.

In short, the fancy audio and videos are not worth the effort.

This reminds me of the old-time Alertboxes - nothing too surprising, but good to keep this article handy so that I can reference it the next time someone gets gung-ho on the rich media.

The dangers of infographics

The current media spectacle that is the "war on Iraq" produces a lot of good and bad infographics. I was surfing the web looking for them and a few thoughts struck me:

Infographics are somewhat expensive and time-consuming to produce, and are therefore in their nature providing context to whatever is going on on the ground. It is, however, _not_ in their nature to provide afterthought and analysis.

The policy concerning infographics of NRK (Norwegian equivalent of the BBC) is that it is important to not overuse infographics because they can create the impression that this is a computer game and not real war with real people really being blown into little pieces.

The Guardian has attempted to create interactive infographics with Flash, but I expect something more than a pressing a "next" button through a slide show to call something interactive. There is a lot of unfulfilled potential here. battle scenarios Iraqi military sites | Surrender 101
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | More interactive guides to the Iraq crisis
VG Nett - Baghdad City

Transmedia convergence

Interesting article in Technology Review about storytelling and the convergence of assets across media to deliver and sell content in multiple markets.

[W]e have entered an era of media convergence that makes the flow of content across multiple media channels almost inevitable.


While the technological infrastructure is ready, the economic prospects sweet, and the audience primed, the media industries haven't done a very good job of collaborating to produce compelling transmedia experiences. Even within the media conglomerates, units compete aggressively rather than collaborate.

Aspen Magazine Online

Aspen Magazine makes it's online debut.

This is a web version of Aspen, a multimedia magazine of the arts originally published from 1965 to 1971. Each issue of Aspen was delivered to subscribers in a box, which contained a variety of media: printed matter in different formats, phonograph recordings, and even a reel of Super-8 film. This website is a work in progress: it currently includes issues 1 through 9 in their entirety; issue number 10 will be added later.

What's Info Got to Do With It?

David Weinberg is wondering what information has to do with the web. His essay in Darwin says,

    The information that shows up on the Web is part of the Web's world. But you could never get to the world of the Web if you started only with information.
In short, I guess he's saying that it has everything and nothing to do with the web. He ponders the definition of information and offers some answers. Not sure I agree with his contention that you don't get information when you view search results. Even when you are viewing meta-information in a pointer (e.g. search result descriptions, abstracts of articles) you are still using information in my opinion. I think of the roots of the term inform, which means to me, "revealing the shape within". Surrogates that stand in for an object are information for me because they they reveal something of the nature of the thing I am interested in. For example, if I look at a picture of a painting in a text book, or a description of a painting in an index, I may be sufficiently informed or some information need I had may be fulfilled by just viewing that surrogate without having to come close to the real object. By this definition, almost every bit of data with some context becomes information for me.

What I do begin to agree with is the notion that the Internet does not only have to do with information. There is experience. He says at one point that "it's more about connection than the transfer of facts," and that it's about doing things using different kinds of media. I think he's on the mark there.

Knowledge Management: When Bad Things Happen to Good Ideas

Darwin Magazine is running a story on how a good idea –knowledge management– is dragged down by its execution (poor software, poor implementation). A good read to see how your hard work could be totally hijacked by (and is currently getting a bad rep from) a number of peripheral circumstances.

[The address from the link from above:]

Net culture in Korea, and how the real killer app is people.

In its latest issue, Wired magazine has a great article about Korea and how they use the Internet as groups. It draws some interesting conclusions, but I wish it would go further in discussing how the US isn't really that different: we're just going at it from a different angle.

For information architects, this is an important issue: if the Internet is at its heart a place for people to interact with one another, perhaps we need to consider that in our discipline. Maybe it's not mainly about data retrieval and shopping? Maybe those things are peripheral, red herrings for our fiercely individualistic culture?

Rather than spamming iaslash, if you want to see my other thoughts about it, check it out at memekitchen.

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