Concept to Content or Vice Versa?

My Dearest Thinkers,

I am currently working on the design concept and information flow for the host website for my research project, Myths of Nature in post-WWII National Geographic Car Ads.  My ultimate goal for this visual project is to create an engaging, jargon-free website to interest regular folk to decode the covert messages in ads they see everyday. The New Media Lab group is academically and technologically diverse, so it was both a boon and a challenge to present a draft of my project during the March 2010 meeting.

In that meeting, I presented elements of the visual project while verbally describing my plans for its future. However, I gleaned from the few comments and puzzled expressions that my presentation and project did not meet my goal to engage non-expert audiences!  This was an important moment that caused me to reconsider the purpose, content and scope of my visual project. The visual project is its own entity! It is NOT a summary of my research findings or methods. It should be a vehicle for my main goal: to encourage the decoding of everyday advertisements.


Bright Idea, Shawndel!Eureka! I think I’ve got it!

As I blog this right now, I realize that my project is streamlining itself!!! I love experiencing, reading and writing about the process of process; That is, letting moments, ideas and experiences work on and through me. For that reason I must share that blogging this entry, right now, has caused me to realize that in order to engage people in decoding ads, then I should create that opportunity and space for them to do so! Brilliant simplicity! I just need to reinterpret the methods that I will use for my research to web-friendly text and images.  Within a nicely designed website, I will provide sample car ads with a brief “tutorial” of sorts. Site visitors will be free to explore!

Recent Inspiration

Tutorial: Blue Velvet

Wading through the sea of visual research, my Professor Nicholas Mirzoeff introduced my class to Vectors Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular. Vectors in an E-journal that unites schorlars, technologists and designers on projects to create technological projects which embody a newly envisioned relationship between form and content in academic research.


David Theo Goldberg on BLUE VELVET from Andrew Jakubowicz on Vimeo.

In the current issue, we viewed the project Blue Velvet which blew my mind! The website is BRILLIANTLY interpretive of original research by David Theo Goldberg and Stefka Hristova.  The design / form by Erik Loyer – that is the colors, iconography, interface functionality, animations and navigation ALL match the content and topic: Hurricane Katrina which hit New Orleans, Louisiana on August 29, 2005.

Symmetry of form, content, intent and poetics.

The attractive design, engaging navigation rules and animations, and video interview with David Theo Goldberg has caused me to hone in on the idea of an aesthetically pleasing, functional, form and content appropriate website which allows INTERPRETIVE opportunities for users.

The Revised Form of My Project

To ground this blog entry, Blue Velvet was a multi-year collaborative project with technical experts and professional web designers; Even the range of projects available in the Vectors Journal is of varied levels of beauty, technical expertise and symmetry of content to form. So, I am now purposed with creating a beautiful, simply designed website using Adobe Dreamweaver cs4,  OR in conjunction with PowerPoint or Adobe Flash and Illustrator to present sample ads with tutorial to make available the opportunity:

  • to learn a few visual analysis techniques
  • for visitors to decode a few ads
  • to share their thoughts on the ads
  • to send ads to me or to friends / colleagues

Additional functionality will ensue after this portion of the project:

  • I will create a personal brain to be used as a web navigation tool / website index that shows relationships between the web content
  • The ads will be linkable to the Personal Brain and Dipity Timeline

Thanks for reading!


Shawndel N. Fraser

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