Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Google, Google, Google

Google sites is an excessively limited tool. Sophisticated, original designs aren't necessarily possible outside of the basic templates. I feel like Google has already told me how to make the website and I'm just filling in the blanks. It can definitely do the trick though. The Student Entertainment Committee's site is so wanting that anything would be an improvement. I'm sure that however limiting Google Sites is: a simple redesign can effectively include the fixes to the many problems with the SEC's current page.

I've used similar webtools before. O! memories.

My first website was built on Maxpages, a seedy little webhost. The gimmick is their thousands of free applets. Terribly basic java scripts which produce unnecessary effects or diversions which should never be featured on a proper webpage. Yet, it was (and still is) free.

It's interesting how far free website-building tools have come. When I used Maxpages, it was terribly difficult to get by without knowing some html. Precocious in my youth, I had a couple of kickers at my disposal. I could add images, links and scrolling text without inciting the advertisements which came using Maxpages' tools.

This irked my friend and website rival at the time.

He and I had built two respective websites for our pokemon action figures. They would come to "life" online. We'd each ante-up each other with how abstruse and absurd we could make our pages. Of course, that wasn't the mission objective. It just seemed natural to expand the site into page after page of dizzying, pointless applets and text for text's sake if you wanted to make your site bigger and better. I simply had more annoying tricks at my disposal. He took notice. One night through AIM he sent me a recording of him singing "your website stinks" to "Gloria Excelsis Deo"...

It's interesting how the internet and other electronic technologies are effecting my generation and how much it has truly been a part of our youth. What will be the next generations electronic inheritance?

How complicated will the webtools of the future be?

Will my generation shrug just our parents at the mentioning of some new means of expression across wire and wi-fi?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Pointless Sites is a website documenting the existence of eponymous web pages. I chose this website as an example of a website done well. The main-page summarizes the entire endeavor quickly, and boasts a felicitous, though arbitrarily labeled, navigation bar. There is always a way to get from one page to another, and back again to the home page. The color scheme is consistent, and the lists of pointless websites are similarly organized, regardless of their category. While some links don't work, as pointless sites tend to die quickly, the website is updated with some frequency. One of the features which kindled my preference was that clicking the links opened up independent tabs in my browser, allowing me to open as many pointless sites as I wished but still reference the list itself. is certainly a website, though that is all which can be said for it. I chose this website as an example of a terrible website. I have no idea what it is about. The only discernible pages, like "News" offered nothing but a blinding array of animations and, what I believed is termed "mystery meat navigation." The other pages on the site are immensely confusing, but enjoyable if you have a surrealist's sense of humor. The homepage has no distinguishable menu other than a matrix of moving pictures while incoherent sounds fill what could be otherwise pensive silence. Perhaps this is an excellent website if the web designer was going for the W.T.F. factor.


The Palmquist chapter was illuminating.

I think most of my generation has assumed many of the things in these articles from all the websurfing we've done. However, it has never been put into words so succinctly. Withal, the clades of organization shown are highly optimistic and general. Most websites are some unholy combination of structure and chaos. I think this is because websites are constantly expanding, and while the homepage and popular pages may be maintained, other pages fall to obsolescence.

I had been thinking about the spread of pages.

Palmquist turned my mind to some thoughts...

It's much like one of those "choose your own adventure" novels you pick a textual representation or some other facsimile, and you go on a different path. There is a "narrative" function to links, a cascade of sites--like chapters--with some consonance to each other. However paperback choose-your-own-adventure novels eventually come to some end based on the reader's decisions. Websites involve turning back and forth between pages without any final destination in mind per se. But! websites lack a "resolution": Wikipedia can be used to no end; I can surf the forums of to no end.

What is the website then? A tangle of information laid out for a reader?

Websites display and organize information for diverse readers; the readers come to the websites on their own free will for varying occasions.

Is there a universal theory which unites all websites? What does each website achieve in common with other websites?

Websites come from free-reacting minds. Spontaneously or assiduously constructing tethered "pages" of a complex "pamphlet."

Is a website a collection of pages? If so, is an orphan page technically a website of it's own?

Where does one website begin and another end. If a website is interlinked with other websites this can be an issue. Should it go by web domains? There are websites I've seen which extend into several all owned by the same individuals. Should it go by ownership? This blog is rightly Bloggers'. Should it then be defined by content creation? Then any advertisement intermittently owns a percentile of my blog, my myspace, my facebook page...

What authenticates ownership of a website? If a website is a group of cohesive pages, than is an orphan page, technically, outside of the creator's "sovereignty." Obviously not, one writer can author several websites, but if the line between one website and the next is awfully bleared, it is difficult to decipher a good definition of what the author of a website is.

Is ownership of a website the same as authorship of a website?

Is a website's ownership defined by who can edit the content?

This makes more sense. While the ads on my page exist, they do not directly affect the composition of these words, or any other content I--me--the writer--the entity which writes may include. Yet, this definition alone is not good enough for me. I do not "own" my wikitravel article.

So: can it be said "the owner of a website is one who can, and does, edit and create content as well as direct the purpose of this content." In this way, authorship and ownership are concentric to each other, one in the same; this, I think, is right.

After all, I can edit Wikitravel all I like, I don't "own" it because, unlike this blog, I do not have hold of the reigns. I cannot direct that content in any other direction. I do not orchestrate its purpose. Whereas here, I do: I am in complete control of content and it's scull, and I sail on!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Another project down.

I was worried that I wouldn't be able to grasp the markup in time. I'm still curious about all the possible mistakes I've yet to catch.

Information ecologies remind me of houses. While the rooms are different, how they are supported is much the same (every couple of feet you put a place a stud in the wall; the trusses beneath the floors to hold the weight). In the Wikitravel information ecology, information is supported by a particular formatting. Without this meticulous attention to detail, the structure will fail and become an anarchic display of information which simply makes no sense.

It's interesting to note that all the information in the world could be at your figure tips, but if it isn't organized properly, it's of no use whatsoever to you.

A little like the Library of Babel, no?

I definitely did not enjoy this as much as I enjoyed the blog project. However, this project introduced me to a new realm. In the future, it seems one's writing skills will only be as good as the way one can apply them to an information ecology. Yet, considering all the formatting that goes on with writing, in publishing, academics, journalism, it is more likely that the aforesaid has always been the case.

Indeed, being a good information architect effects writing in any environment. While organization has always been important to my writing, I've never looked at my writing through the lens of information architecture. I'm sure with this new focus I will sharpen my writing skills all the finer.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to this next project.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Markup March

Having overlooked the markup in my last post, I've had to rearrange all this information accordingly. It's not terribly hard, the Wiki markup is fairly easy to understand, and in many cases you can just copy some other entry. However, whoever worked on my hometown, Bristol, did not follow the markup entirely, and I will have to correct some of the mistakes.

As I've been working on this project, I've actually gained a new perspective on my hometown. I had a terrible time of High School, and absolutely loathed the stagnation of my teen years. In part I, like many teens, blamed it on my setting. "Bristol" became this entity which kept me down. Growing up, you tend to take the scenery for granted, partly because you're being barraged with so many changes in body, mind, and spirit. It seemed to me that there was nothing to do in town. Nowhere to go, nothing to see.

While my smalltown blues have long since vanished, I was still apprehensive about choosing Bristol as my Wikitravel destination. I didn't think it was interesting enough. The greatest examples of my hometown are all the off-color stories of people I know. Withal, traversing town in my memory and thinking over all the nooks and crannies, I really stumbled upon things that make my hometown unique.

Also, I encountered numerous old haunts of mine, as well as new places or places I've known of but never went to. Now it seems, there is plenty to do in Bristol, and I ought to make up for lost time this summer. You could spend an entire day downtown, floating between the boutiques and restaurants. It is not the Bristol I knew from my adolescence. Indeed, it seems like a much better place to spend my Summer interludes away from college.

I'm excited to rediscover my hometown.

Writing the Wikitravel article has put everything in a new light.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

3 Potential Posts

See/Do (it is potentially a "Do" article)

The Fourth of July Parade

Bristol’s annual parade on the 4th is one of its oldest celebrations. Since its start in 1785, the parade has grown both in scope and popularity. The parade route takes place on Hope Street, the only street in the United States where the traffic lines are painted red, white and blue--year round.

The parade takes place on the morning of July 4th at 10:30 A.M., though you might arrive a few hours before and you can leave at any time. The parade takes place downtown on Hope Street, beginning at the corner of Chestnut Street and Hope Street and eventually ending on High Street.

As early as the night before, a parking ban goes into effect, and some three hours before the parade begins surrounding streets are closed off from traffic.

It is beneficial to have friends or relatives in town, and neither are hard to find in Bristol. Parking spaces can be difficult to come by unless one has a friendly driveway. There are parking lots available downtown, however they fill up rapidly and it may be walk before you find a place to sit down.

Be sure to bring your own chairs, or a towel to lie down on. Arriving early insures having somewhere to sit. Spaces on either side of Hope Street are quickly populated. You can choose to set up your seats in the morning some hours before the parade. Bristol’s Fourth of July committee sees to it that materials placed on the parade route before 5 A.M. are confiscated, but any time after that hour is fine.

Along the parade route food and non-alcoholic refreshments are available from various venues, Dells Lemonade being a crowd favorite. Although, there is nothing against you bringing your own food and drink (but alcohol is absolutely prohibited). There are also venues to by souvenirs, balloons and other festive treats. These venues can be found set up along the sidelines of the parade route, though they can be some distance from your seat.

Many of the parade’s divisions are devoted to patriotic displays and reverences both past and present, but it doesn’t pass by like a longwinded history lesson. You can expect a colorful and lively experience for both the eyes and ears. Several groups, organizations and bands from all over the country perform among the towering floats based on the various themes of the year’s parade. A blend of drum and bugle corps from all over the country march and play in this historical celebration as well as Bristol’s very own Mt. Hope high School Marching Band. Political figures as well as Elmo have been spotted walking in the parade.



Haffenraffer Museum (here I will include the Museum’s actual website, the link on the original Wiki goes to a website written completely in Japanese and has nothing to do with the museum)

The Haffenraffer Museum has been known for its historical, cultural and anthropological exhibitions of artifacts from all over the globe including the Americas and Africa.

The museum, as initially built by Rudolph F. Haffenraffer and later expanded, in Bristol has unfortunately been closed to the public. The building inadequately met fire standards as well as suffering from an outbreak of mold. The site of the museum in Bristol is being converted for storage purposes solely.

However, an exhibition from the museum’s collection can be viewed at Manning Hall on Brown University’s campus located in Providence (link to Providence).



(many present items in the article have websites, I will endeavor to provide the links editing the original post. I include initial material in parentheses)

(DeWolf Tavern, 259 Thames St., Phone: +1 401-254-2005. Reservations suggested.) [I’ll add:] Esquire Magazine lists the DeWolf Tavern as “One of the 20 New Restaurants in the US”. Offers high-end seafood dishes and presents an extensive wine list.

(Papa Joe's Wrap Shack, 567 Hope St., Phone +1 401-253-9911. Pizza and wraps. Inexpensive.) [I’ll add:] Small and limited seating arrangement.

Tentative listings (I’ll need to do some homework to give some accurate price ranges):

Bristol House of Pizza (link to their website), 55 State St., Phone: 401-253-2550. Pizza, pasta, salads, grinders, club sandwiches.

Classic Pizza, 390 Metacom Ave., Phone: 401-253-1871

Pizzawave (link to their website), 400 Metacom Ave., Phone: 401-253-8811. Pizza, pasta, steak, seafood. Located behind a Blockbuster, not necessarily visible from the road at a glance.

The Daily Scoop (link to their website), 446 Thames St., Phone: 401-253-2223. Ice cream, smoothies, desserts.

Beehive Café (link to their website), 10 Franklin St., Phone: 401-396-9994. Pastry, smoothies, coffee, tea, all food freshly baked in-house. Limited seating; balcony views.

Ricotti’s, 11 Gooding Ave., Phone: 401-253-1614. Sandwiches, pizza, broccoli pies. $5-$10

Zelia’s Diner, 20 Gooding Ave., Phone: 401-253-4041. Breakfast and lunch. $5-$10

Three Tips from “the Manual of Style”

The first tip I would keep in mind is the list of Words to Avoid. Wikitravel writers may have fantastical impressions of where they’ve been, foggy memories, and plenty of fire to write about their favorite travel spots. However this is a recipe for a noxious wiki, poisoning the information ecology of Wikitravel with indefinite and/or verbose language. Wikitravel requires hard, precise language, flowery adjectives and fuzzy qualifiers are the stuff of memoirs.

The Words to Avoid list is certainly to be followed literally, but it ought to be taken farther than just the words on the list. Just because a word or a phrase is not on the list, it is important to remember that other words and phrases which commit the same wrongs are out there. These too are also to be avoided. If one cannot remember anything about the museum than its “lucrative elegance” than one might rather not mention it at all. Long transitions or big words where a smaller one will do should be avoided too. If one cannot be quick, trim and specific with their choice of words, one cannot be a Wikitraveler.

The second tip would be to remember that Wikitravel is interested in lively writing. The Wikitravel writer could forget this what with all the restrictions and regulations made on content and wording. It’s important that the writing, despite the various sieves and revisions it must go through to be worth posting to Wikitravel, is sprightly. There is room for humor in an article, provided it’s tasteful. Writing can be conversational, and information, the writer may even address the reader with “you” yet the article, unlike a conversation must be purposeful and precise.

Lastly, the third tip I think worth notice is: observing Wikitravel’s organization, as outlined in the “Where you can stick it” entry. One of the most important aspects of an information ecology is its organization. If there was no uniform means of organization, no categorically applied method, the information ecology would lack all structure and collapse.

Yet, let it be understood that this is not an attack on the creativity of Wikitravel writers. A proper metaphor would be, an architect is given a rough idea of what his clients want him to design, waters facing the bay, a big front door, etc.; Wikitravel is telling information architects how to build them a fortified article.

Keeping things in cadence with Wikitravels means of organizing ensures a long and fruitful career as a Wikitravel writer. Writers ignorant of the system could compose brilliant articles, but nevertheless: it wouldn’t be what Wikitravel needs. Inevitably those brilliant articles would be cannibalized by other writers who follow the set code. They may very well write dully, but can claim the prerogative of erasing or editing one’s articles which don’t fit the mold.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bristol or Warren or ....?

There are two areas I could focus on that I know best of all. Bristol, at the top of the list, and Warren, a close second. I know them like the back of my hand; they’re so small they could fit there as well.

Yet, as I said before, do I have the eyes of a traveler or a townie? Which is more beneficial to the travel reader? My hometown’s wiki needs a lot of work, but I’d certainly be up for the challenge. I know a little bit more about area, having lived there for a long time. I know where to eat, and unique points of interest, like this or that café. While, Bristol has made a name for itself with its historic Fourth of July Parade, I think there are reasons to go there in Autumn, or in the early Spring. Bristol has museums, and if you reside their long enough you might pick up some Portuguese.

Warren is a little more intense than Bristol, but is the smaller of the two towns. Warren has several unique restaurants and commercial venues in its downtown area. There’s the occasional quahog festival, which is worthy of note: it is the state mollusk, is it not? Warren is also home to the initial site of Brown University, then called “the College of Rhode Island.” The initial building was burned down in a raid, however, in 1778. That is also interesting, yes?

The initial wikis for both these towns I’ve spent so much time in between are absolutely barren. Any trivia I’ve absorbed over the years and can type up would be a benefit.

Perhaps if I observe more pages on Wikitravel, I’ll be able to perfect the voice which works best for describing Bristol, or Warren: a stone’s throw away, but a little different.

Picking a third location would be a stretch. Providence? Barrington? I don’t know enough about these places, but I know what makes them worth the drive. Then again, why I go to Providence or Barrington might not be the attraction someone pursuing through Wikitravel is looking for.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Wikitravel is reminiscent of Wikipedia. Yet, it specializes not in the specifics of a place, but in the allure of the place as well as useful information while residing there. The major is distinction is that Wikipedia offers a history of a place, its population, spoken language, currency and etc. Wikitravel offers you why to travel to such a place, and how to go about doing it to your greatest benefit.

It's interesting how there is so much that cannot be covered at once. And just as Wikitravel sprang from Wikipedia, another thing could spring from Wikitravel, perhaps only dealing in native folklore or tourist shops.

I caught my own hometown's page, Bristol Rhode Island. Sadly it wasn't filled in all the way. I was wondering if I could complete it. But, I don't think I could. I have the eyes of a townie, not a traveler; which has cued me into the peculiar perspective necessary to Wikitravel well.

Reading the rules, it was nice to see website administrators lay down the rules. I especially liked the attention given to user pages, and how they shouldn't become "my cat websites." A website, no matter its purpose, can fall apart if there aren't any substantial rules for the decorum of its users. Of course, I'm not advocating any restriction on the total freedom of any web user, but certain websites need certain rules, I'm glad to see Wikitravel understands this. Perhaps the administrators learned the hard way?