Jenny Reeder


Accessibility
March 24, 2007, 4:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So I’ll be honest. I am a bit frustrated with the Screen Reader Simulation. Not only was it a pain to download the Shockwave plug-in (I ended up having to do it manually–and it always worries me to have to check my age, like something nasty is going to pop in if I’m over 18), but then my keyboard commands didn’t work. I tried it five or six times. I can understand the frustration blind people have in using programs that aren’t entirely compliant, or that don’t make sense. It’s a whole different experience.

That said, I have come to believe that we can do some very simple things to facilitate accessibility.  Mark Pilgrim’s Dive Into Accessibility provided a helpful explanation of several individual disabilities–which made real people from the terms defined by Paul Bohman. Pilgrim lists several things that I think are completely do-able–like adding meaningful metadata, such as additional navigational aids, titles to links, and listing the doctype and language. I do have an issue with his suggestion to NOT force links to open in new windows. I appreciate having a new tab or window so I can easily refer back to my previous page without losing it somewhere in a back button search. I know this documentation was written in 2002, and I wonder if things have changed at all with more current browsers. Perhaps I am now accustomed to Firefox and the various tab features. I’m curious to know how this little rule works these days.

I was also intrigued with the suggestions Pilgrim makes that also benefit Google searches, such as adding meaningful titles to each page and presenting the main content first. I admit it–the Google appeal is great.



Images, Imagined Images, and Images of Imagination
March 20, 2007, 1:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

For my image assignment, I decided to take everything from one large poster created in 1883. I really like this image–there is a lot of depth and possibility. However, the more I played with it, the more I wonder if I’ve really improved things or not. I love what Katrin Eisman suggested: work for 20 minutes, then take a break. I think this is crucial–my neck throbs and my eyes ache and I am anxious to hurry and be done with it all, so I end up making rash movements. I think my favorite part of Photoshop is the history–I can delete line by line. It’s grand.

I must say that I’m not sold on colorizing. I was intrigued by Steve’s comment and I wonder if we try to do too much once we start playing with Photoshop tools. Reality starts to fade away and everything turns to imagination. It’s fun, but I’m just not sure about the finished project. It’s certainly a matter of my own creation; I suppose I’m still coming to terms with how history is actually done.

I’m definitely still working on my site. Here’s a sneak preview.



Design that’s Professional, Worn, and Wicked
March 5, 2007, 1:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am intrigued with the ability of Photoshop to manipulate images, and yet I continue to question the authenticity of image manipulation on a couple of different levels.  In class Professor Petrik mentioned three reasons for image use: Archival, Illustrative History, and Decorative Design. Each purpose is important–digital preservation, visual historical analysis, and incredible design. In this class we will probably not cover digital preservation. In my MA program, though, I had a preservation class as part of my certificate in archival management. Thought I appreciate the use of images in different ways and I understand and celebrate the strength of visual history, I tend to fear the power of image manipulation. I wonder if images should be manipulated for historical evidence–certainly for design. I think Mark Stevens raises some important questions along this line, to which I have responded.

Our reading for this week illustrates several different ways to manipulate images. I enjoyed reading about Greg Story’s ideas expanding design to include historic shapes–signs, logos, and mastheads. And I thought Dave Rau and Josh Bertrand had valuable input with efforts to mimic the real world–“tasty splotches, drips, folds, splats, stains, rips, and tears.”

Cameron Moll’s blog Wornamental, Thornamental opens up a whole new strategy: instead of cleaning things up in an image, he seems to be encouraging the historical feel by wearing things down. Tools such as grunge brushes, ragged edges, and pixelation all add in this wearing down process.

So where’s the balance between a clean, finished, professional look and an authentic historic ambiance? I have  a feeling that it comes with experience and clean coding, as discussed in Petrik’s essay. And I heartily agree with Laura–that it takes playing around with images and the techniques rather than just reading about them. Any other ideas?