February 12th, 2005

ENG 519 Movie Identity Website Assignment

I am going to expose myself (what else is new?) by making my Movie Identity Website, as well as its critique by Dr. Swarts, available via this blog. This way, we can learn from each other's work, as well as our own. I encourage others to do the same.

Hopefully, Dr. Swarts will feel comfortable using what is normally a personal "signal template" (i.e., the "comment box") to render a professional opinion. (Translation: Though his "comment" persona is usually personal, and his own blog entry persona professional, I hope he will be comfortable commenting using his professional persona.) :-)

I decided on this design by thinking about how visual, verbal, cultural, and technological mediation could help me create an identity of a movie to a particular discourse community. My thought process was roughly as follows:
  1. When you think of someone's "identity," what are some ways it is expressed in our culture?
  2. My thoughts initially ran to "identity theft." Okay, identity theft is usually referring to things like a person's name, address, social security number, bank accounts, credit card accounts, etc. I dismissed this as too specific to their "financial identity," if you will.
  3. I next thought, okay, what I'm more looking for are ways that we talk about what makes someone who they are: their background, their family, their achievements, etc. My first thought in this area was obituaries. But, what I didn't like about that was that it means the person is dead, and movies really don't "die." Old movies never die; they just collect dust-to-dust.
  4. So next, I thought of a person's biography, which can apply to people still living as well as those who have died. So that's how I arrived at using our "cultural notion" of what a biography is to give my movie, which is Sordid Lives, an identity.
  5. I thought about the discourse community of people who want to know something about a person, and how I could relate those things to a movie that I am personifying. That's how I came up with the categories to put in the navigation pane on the left. By thinking, "What would I want to know about a famous "person," if you will.
  6. In the visual realm, I wanted to have something on the page to further implant the "image" of a biography, which has traditionally been a book, so I carefully chose the bookshelf image I did to make the background field at the top of the page. I wanted a scholarly looking set of books, and I liked the first book "on the shelf" as it actually is a biography, and has a picture of the person it's about on the binding.
  7. At this point, I also thought about the program "Biography" on A&E, and considered making my page similar to the way they do theirs, but I actually wasn't impressed with their format. Here's their online biography of Dave Thomas. They are, afterall, a television program, and my assessment is that they do that best. So I decided to let the technological mediation device of standard homepage format and navigation drive my design instead of trying to mimic what they've done.
  8. I'm no artist, and took a stab at picking a background color that would pick up some of the color in the movie picture in the upper left corner, and from the picture of the books on the shelf, but more importantly, I wanted a color to visually set apart the text/links for navigation.
I think that's all I want to say about it at this time. Dr. Swarts, if it's too time-consuming for you to provide your comments here, please feel free to do so during the class instead, or just comment that we should meet one-on-one to discuss.

I welcome comments from my classmates as well, and I'm open to hearing, from everyone, what "doesn't work" for you as much as I am what does, if anything. My ego is not in this; I'm more interesting in learning something.

This is a partial site. I tired to do just enough to make my design points. There are only three active links in it.

Take me to
John's "Identity Page" for the movie Sordid Lives

Homework, skis, and crosswords...

I had the scrambled eggs with cheese entree this morning. I used my dairy allotment to add 1 oz. of PepperJack cheese to it. I had that, with a little ketchup on it, and a piece of toast. I followed that with some cantaloupe. I lucked out with another perfectly ripe cantaloupe. Yum.

I spent a good four-to-five hours working on my "Movie Identity Website" for ENG 519. As advised in class on Thursday, I worked on it until I got sick of it. Actually, I did enough of it to give a feel for the direction I was going with it in terms of the design. The biggest thing I learned in Dreamweaver and Fireworks as a result of the exercise was how to create the background banner from several small pictures, and superimpose it with some text.

The four to five hours just flew by, so I suppose, to some extent, I was in flow.

I had lunch, which consisted of a huge yummy salad, and the meatballs lunch entree. I poured them over two slices of bread, one of which was the "end" (or "heel" or "crust") of the loaf of bread, which I happen to not mind.

I retrieved my ski boots from the shed, opened the bag praying no giant furry spider (or even a tiny hairless one, to be perfectly honest) would crawl out or touch my hands. I hate spiders, and if one did, I truly would have squealed like a girl. Not that only girls squeal, or there's anything wrong with squealing like a girl. I pride myself in being in touch with my feminine side. But I digress.

I went to Alpine Ski Center to have my skis tuned up before my trip to Tahoe, which is now less than a month away. Yippee! I didn't think I needed my boots, but I brought them just in case. The guy advised me that there are some spots (read: gashes) on the underside of my skis that are not going to come out with a tune up. Also, he wrote, "Binding may break," on the service slip, as they are very old, and he said they could break while they're doing the tune up, and they won't be responsible for that. I was cool with all of it. The skis are very old, but they work, and I'm the type who will use them as long as they do. Actually, I am seriously considering getting some new skis at the end-of-season sale this year, when I'll have my bonus from work to use on them.

Leaving there, at around 5:05, I called Robert to see if he could tell me at what time the sun was scheduled to set today. I was on my way to walk around Lake Johnson, and was wondering if I had time to do the three miles before it got dark. "5:53," he said.

Hmmmm. I won't get there until about 5:15. Can I make it around before it gets dark? Well, it doesn't get pitch black as soon as the sun goes down, does it? Surely, there'll be light for a little while longer after 5:53. Don't call me Shirley!

I started my walk at 5:20, and really kept up the pace. I usually walk 4 MPH (who's counting), but ended up finishing the 3 miles in 40 minutes, so averaged 4.5 miles an hour. About three-fourths of the way around the lake, I passed this man, walking in the opposite direction, presumably with his wife and best friend, who are the same person, which I just love.

I left Lake Johnson just after 6, and stopped by Costcutters to see if they were still open. They closed at 6:00. Darn.

At home, I cooked dinner, the Chicken and Noodles entree, which was very, very good. I had squash with it, and some frozen carrots, which I cooked, of course, but had been sitting in my freezer for probably a year, no lie. They weren't that great. Gee, I wonder why.

I read the rest of Chapter 5 of Usability Testing for ENG 508, and sighed at the arduous task, which lies ahead, of creating a (group) Test Plan.

During that reading Robert arrived, and when I finished the chapter, we started work on the crossword puzzle in the latest Independent. It was quite challenging, and we had to use the crossword puzzle "A to Z" clue book a lot, and were often disappointed with a clue/word not being in there. More than anything, I'm disappointed in the font reduction from the previous edition. It must be down to 8, or even 7, points now. Grrrr! I do appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gift from Robert, though, as the previous edition I have, even though it has bigger font -- though not that much bigger -- is 30 years old!

<TMI>After the lights went out, I pounced on Robert. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!</TMI>