Usability?

In the city of Philadelphia there are so many helpful non profit orgainizations willing to help those in need.  A big problem is that not many people may have the right information to be able to utilize these organizations to it’s fullest capacity.  A big factor in this is the usability of the particular company’s website.  Three websites of non-profit organizations that I found could benefit from a usability test include the Northeast Animal Rescue http://nar.rescuegroups.org/.  This website could use some tweeking in the sense that we can not tell what words are links or simply text, there is not a clear outline of where to go, and the site map link does not stand out very well.  Another non-profit website is Art-Reach http://www.art-reach.org/ this is a very useful and popular non-profit organization but could use help with the placement of links to different pages based on their imporatance as well as making the links stand out as opposed to just looking like standard text.  Philly AIDS Thrift http://www.phillyaidsthrift.com/ was another website that caught my eye in needing some usability help. Their webside has a whole lot going on all at once when you originally get on the website, and instead of having more links to various categories, everything is out on the website together.

The synergy of the senses

I never realized how much you truly use your five senses in day to day life before analyzing the use of pictures and sound in a few of the videos made from http://www.salt.edu/studentwork/multimedia/. Particularly “FIDDLE-ICIOUS”.  This is a story following musicians that play various instruments (one of course being the fiddle), and their journeys, feelings, and various personal experiences with their instrument of choice.

We as the listener/watcher would have received the message perfectly fine by simply listening, or even by just watching the scheme of pictures shown without sound.  What made this documentary phenomenal was the tasteful combination of the two.  Throughout almost the entire movie we hear the sound of the instrument that is being showcased with a voice over of the person who plays it.  During parts where what is being said is more important than hearing the instrument, it is silent with just the voice playing. 

The alignment of the pictures with the sounds and voices was fantastic.  The detail of the emotions shown in the pictures matched perfectly with the detail of the emotions heard in each particular person’s voice.  It was like we as the listener/viewer were right there with them at orchestra practice, and experiencing everything as they were.  I felt the fulfillment and pride the people being highlighted had in playing their instrument, and even though I have no musical ability, it made me want to play an instrument too.

Weird to think about…

So, we all hear multiple stories on a daily basis and we might not even realize it. Whether it be hearing about a friend’s exciting weekend, listening to a lecture in class, or even watching your favorite tv show, stories are an intricate part of daily life.  We  always hear and tell stories, but do you actually ever thin about the different aspects of a story besides raw content that make it great?

One of the two stories I listened to that I personally found to be wonderfully told, was “Hot Lunch”.  This was a radio story that highlighted an inside view of one high school’s lunch ladies.  The subject matter is not particularly one that people strive to hear and learn about, yet by the end of the story you are left feeling happy and inspired.  A similar story with similar subject matter, if not told correctly, could have been painful to listen to.

First we hear a constant background noise of the cafeteria during it’s busy hours.  This adds the effect of the listener actually there, experiencing the environment with the interviewer.  There is then an aspect of emotion.  They took any common emotion that one feels and connected it to the story they were trying to tell.  Although not everybody can normally relate to being a lunch lady, they can perhaps relate the emotions the lunch ladies felt to some aspect of their own lives.

Finally we are given outside review about the lunch ladies from students raving about how they do their job.  This reiterates the positivity and fulfillment not only the lunch ladies themselves get, but it also reinforces things previously stated to the listener.  There are many different types of stories one can tell, and many different ways they can tell it in.  This is a simple example of key elements of storytelling and examples of the execution of them.

 

What Makes a Good Story?

http://blog.ted.com/2010/12/24/nine-stories-a-tedtalks-playlist/

TED talks have a reputation to be wonderfully inspiring presentations by phenomenal speakers who seem to just have a way with their words.  I watched three of the nine TED talks listed on this website, one from Becky Blanton on being homeless, one by Patsy Rodenburg on why she does theatre, and one by Mike Rowe on being incorrect.  All of these talks are very different in subject matter, but so painfully similar in underlying substance.

A few characteristics that are consistent in all of the TED talks that I watched were that they all showed credibility, they all had a powerful message to get across, they all had points in admitting their faults, and they all ended on a truly inspiring note.

Credibility is shown in the beginning through displaying life experience, and throughout the talk by admitting their mistakes and shortcomings as a mean for improvement.  What is a story without a moral? All of these beautifully put together stories all have a message to be sent.  This message is put across through giving random details throughout the story that all come together in the end on a inspirational note.  The speakers make themselves vulnerable to the audience by showcasing genuine emotion to help get the point across.

A particular story in substance could be very inspiring but unless it is told in a strategic manner a person may not be able to fully grasp all aspects of the story.  Of course subject matter is extremely important, but it is the execution that separates a story from being good or great to exceptional

Sucker for good storytelling

After listening to the full radio broadcast of the “War of Worlds” I can truly say I fell victim to getting suckered in to believing a story that was clearly false.  When listening to this broadcast the height of suspense, I failed to see all of the clear clues that the story was completely false.

At the beginning of the broadcast, I completely thought it was your typical daily broadcast stating the weather, and any other daily need-to-know info.  The transition from complete normalcy to complete and total chaos was very gradual, and slow pace, leaving the listener no reason to question it.

The broadcasters were very prompt in reiterating their location, and it was structured as though they themselves were finding the information out just as we were, drawing the audience in more.  All of the witnesses, yes, every witness that was interviewed just “happened” to be a highly respected person in society such as a professor, general of the army, or meteorologist. This gave the information credibility to the listeners. 

So the reporters gradually drew us in, structured the broadcast as though they were finding out information just as we were, and had well respected witnesses.  The only thing left to seal the deal was the emotion we heard in the broadcasters’ voices.

Statement of Intent

The blog that I have just created, is intended as a public form of my own expression and opinions combined with the reblogs of things I find interesting.  The goal is to be able to grow, thrive and learn the ropes throughout the semester on how to be able to maintain a blog the best possible way that I can.

Blogs?

With the world’s latest obsession with social media, it is almost impossible to have not had any interaction with some type of blog.  Blogs have been around ever since the Internet was created, and now they have transformed into changing the way people connect with one another in their daily lives.

I can make one, you can make one, your Aunt Sally from Idaho can make one, anybody can create a blog, and anybody can read them. Blogs are for the public, and meant for anyone’s eyes who are willing to read them. Blogging is an activity where we can freely exercise our right to freedom of speech. There are blogs about everything from fashion to robots to cookie recipes to simply a person’s everyday life. 

When people blog, it’s because they found something interesting or discovered something new, so most likely there are other people out there who feel the same way.  Their posts are simply stated, with their thoughts organized in a manner that is convenient for skimming.  There are short and to the point titles, and usually a simple photo to tie in with the article.

The wonderful thing that makes blogs so popular is the fact that there is no set structure that you must follow.  There are a few guidelines that may help make your blog successful, but at the end of the day you have the final say it what goes and what doesn’t.