Where are your icons?
...You're not looking ... they're all over my Web Pages.
I call them word-icons. You may remember them ... they were very popular several years back when they came in a small portable container, called "a book," that sold, complete, for $1.98ea
Never-the-less you have a Good Question - one that deserves a better answer ...
... So let's talk !
You'll see very few "images" and "icons" on these pages-for several reasons:
Disclaimer: this page will change, as I change ... as I develop this concept and format ... and as I look to discover what's out there.
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Of course ... many of the Icons you see on "the Net" serve a purpose--getting attention or providing interesting eye-relief--but in terms of their "icon-tent,"
well ... I would like to discuss something else. So, let's start with ...
... the BIG PICTURE ! ...
"The history of culture is in part the story of a protracted struggle for dominance between pictorial and linguistic signs, each claiming for itself certain proprietary rights on a 'nature' to which only it has access." _ "Iconology Image, Text , Ideology" by W.J.T. Mitchell.
Whoa ... that's way too big for me ... start over, please !
Ok ... but the guy has a point if you wanted to discuss the art of making paintings vs. the science of making technologies.
Hmmm ... how 'bout this ?
Images are Soooo ... important to understanding everything ... let's discuss the types of images that we use everyday... for example:
Graphic ... pictures
Optical ... projections
Perceptual ... appearances
Mental ... ideas
Verbal ... descriptions
Nope! ... still too big ... and much too abstract ! I would like to see why your Web Pages are important to ... Me!
Tell me how your "word images" put ideas into my head ... that is, how text or even entire poems become a window of reality ... for me.
Cheeze ... you're beginning to talk like me!
Well you were using the concept, "verbal icons" as a metaphor for the metaphor, itself!
Uh ... Yeh ... right ...
As I was saying when we were talking about the battle between the iconoclasts and the iconophiles ... in this "religious" battle-the prize goes to whoever can produce the most interesting "image" an "icon of reality" if you will ...
... but then ... this is what "Science" is about, right?
In other words ... if an icon doesn't help me to direct a user to the place where he or she can go to get content ... that "he" or "she" needs, now ... then I don't use them.
That's ... it ?
That's ... "what ... ?"
That's ... the only reason why you don't use icons ?
Yep ... and the other reasons I mention, above.
Do you have anything else to say 'bout Web Pages ?
Thanks ... I though you'd never ask ...
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Do you ever notice the similarity of web pages. The challenge seems to be who can come up with the flashiest icon ... or the cleverest, largest (and slowest) looking logo. These pages become billboards shouting for my attention ... but seeing nothing of interest, I move on to find more of the same. Soon it becomes clear that it's much the same everywhere.
Each year I go to a town in Colorado and I am "blown away" by the magnificent homes I see as I drive into this valley community. Later when I leave, looking back, I see that each home looks no different than it's neighbor and I wonder why the money and talent-commensurate with this development-can't get past this visual "sameness."
The more I look at the Net's icon-jungle, the more I wonder why the organizations that sponsor their web page presence --and the vendors which produce expensive and clever-pages for their paying clients--can't produce products which hold our attention for more than a few seconds. Other people feel the same as I.
I have come to believe this problem centers around the concept of, "content" ... and that is what I wish to talk about.
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If you look at my Web Pages there doesn't seem to be much going for them - "just a bunch of words scratched on a screen ... by a 'technically challenged' person, at best." Yet, people come and say, "I heard about your page ... thought I would take a quick look ... but spent more than two hours before I had to leave."
To the first of these comments, I agree that my technicals dangle and that I am challenged by more than just digital dysfunction. But leaving these comments aside-my pages were only created to be something more useable than my browser's bookmarks ... however ... herein lies "a tale."
Not surprising, the more interesting places I found on the net, the more interesting places I lost-embedded somewhere in a growing list of random and undecipherable URLs (an apt sounding nmonic). Once I tried keeping a separate but organized log. But this was not compatible to quickly finding my way into the net in order to visit a specific place and get special content that I needed.
The solution eventually came when I found that I could create my own web page and merge my URLs with a one line or even a one word description about each site, itself ... but "glory be" ... I found that I could create my own topical "note book" to serve as my gateway into the net. All this was done using an HTML editor. Indeed, I had (re)discovered the ancient computer concept of, "hypertext." But there is more.
One day I overheard a teacher say that she had spent several days at an Internet class and punctuated this statement by saying, " ... and who has the time sorting through all those *$#!& web pages to look for anything ?" At the time, I felt like running over to her and telling her that "Captain Terrific" ... that's me! ... had arrived and that I had, the answer.
But no! Luckily, I realized that I didn't have "the answer." I held back-and act which probably saved my head from being bashed in by her ample purse ... or worse. What stopped me was the thought that she had been doing the same thing that I do as I go from page-to-page to get to the content that I think is there ... and then frustrated when I find that those sponsors and expensive page designers have little understanding of what we (that teacher and I) both needed. Simply put-their idea of content is much different than my idea of content.
From the clouds, it may be important to display the CEO's name and mission statement under an equally important-looking large logo design ... and important to list the top-division staff names beneath these ... and on through the sub-agencies and the sub-agency CEO's and there sub-missions and sub-staffs ...
... but all this is no use, to me.
I was there to look for content to do my job. Perhaps no one else has the same need as I-except some obscure field observer doing his job producing the content that I sought. I can imagine that nameless paid observer is located near the bottom of the organizational chart. I may never see his name but to me and that teacher, I couldn't work without his work. However, the current paradigm for web design has effectively hid his valued content amoungst the Forest of pages and flashing icons. As customers, their message to us is that our collective time and need are not that important.
I suppose she left the Forest as quickly as I, remembering what our mothers had taught us, "Never, never go deeply into the woods" and I began to realized why people only ... "surf" the net rather than "mine" (i.e. a verb) it.
I began to wonder about this ... and what "top-down" meant to page-design ... when they never got to the "down side" of that equation. I began wondering who those page designers were. Were they all clones of the CEO? I began to wonder why web pages all look alike. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered why "top-down" at all. Did the CEOs and CEO-staff and sub-CEO's and their sub-staff all communicate to each other through those Web pages ? Do they constantly have to be reminded of their own mission statement each time they go to their web page ... Do they even go to their own web page?
I think not.
I began think about this problem ... and looked for a better answer.
... continued ...
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