Beam Me Up, Scottie


Monday, April 30, 2007

In Seven Years...

Step back to the future. Tell me what you don't see as you watch this clip from the original Star Trek. ( Please ignore the sponsor commercial a the beginning of the clip. I couldn't make it go away. Just click on the photo.)

After you watch the Star Trek clip, think about what is there but never mentioned or acknowledged.

In developing the series in the mid-1960's Gene Roddenberry invited leading scientists and researchers to review the technology. In addition to possibilities, Roddenberry asked these scientists to answer one additional question. "What technology, what advances would people in the future notice?"

The story goes that the consensus, which proved Roddenberry's point, was that people don't pay attention to technology. They use it and expect it to respond.

In fact, humans become overwhelmed with too much technology. Just take a look at what happens when technology takes center stage. (Again, ignore the sponsor's plug I can't seem to get it to go away.)

An interesting aside, both Get Smart and Star Trek were made during the same era. Wireless communication for the masses didn't exist. Telephones were hard-wired into walls. Infrared motion detectors that allow doors to slide open as you approach didn't exist. computers filled stories of buildings. No PCs. No Macs. No Microwaves. Yet the creators of both shows envisioned the possibilities.

And that is exactly what we have been asked to do in JOMC 712--envision a world that yet does not exist.

So where do we begin to dream? echos the premise of Star Trek's creator and the scientists who help craft his vision of the future. Technology changes, but people do not.
In 100 years, no one will remember memory sticks, or CDs or iPods.
In 100 years, people will laugh, love, struggle and dream.

This thread of life, if you will, crosses the centuries. These sentiments have been expressed through every generation, in every culture, in every language. The technology we use only connects us to one another. It is only when we are isolated that we search for better ways to connect. So, where will technology place us in seven years? What will survive?

Seven years ago, the ultimate technology in cellular phones was this Nokia. Sleek. Simple. Users could play a few games. Using a computer connection or perhaps one of the rare wireless 'hubs', users could also download a ring tone and a new game. The phone contained a simple calendar, memo and contact functions.

Connect with your world. Send and receive e-mails. Download attachments in Outlook. Write Word documents. Synchronize your world. In less than a decade, your world has moved from the desktop and to that of a single user, to a community.
And the promise of a world to to come suggests
you will always be able to stay in touch.

"Computer. On!"

So, how far in the future can tricorders, communicators, phasers and computers that rely solely upon voice command be ?
According to many communications futurists, the future is upon us and it's all about creating a community. If the first wave of Web technology connected computers and Web 2.0 aggregates those resources to create powerful communities, then the next wave will integrate all the media and all the data.
Rather than searching for words in a narrow box, the Web will eventually evolve into a "thinking" resource with the technology to support abstract questions. That work is already underway. At CalTech, at MIT, and other prestigious schools researchers are creating a "thinking" Web. Perhaps in the next decade, we will be closer to the dream that was Star Trek. Perhaps it will be a time when all you do is touch a screen, voice a command and ask a question.

Go Where No Man Has Gone Before...but Goes Forever

Where will we be in seven years. Technology and research indicate that we will be able to call up a video, share it around the world and using technology like Twttr, provide the world with a moment by moment snippet of our lives. Video journalists will carry iPhones with video capabilities and decent audio. CDs will be on the wane and HDTV will have a questionable future. You'll be able to access the Web easily from your phone, your television set or your iPod.

But people will live, love, laugh, cry and mindlessly use technology, just the same way they did--and will do in the 23rd century. Technology will continue to help us, to confound us, and amaze us.

As for that Star Trek episode, the things that no one paid attention to included elevators that travel in all directions, large screen viewers, instant, clear communications to a planet far away. Still the most important elements on the screen were the relationships.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I gave myself the task of finding a specific obituary in my former newspaper. After all, I regularly searched for obits for both readers and as research for stories. I was bolstered by the knowledge that th e paper was the beta test site for the corporate 's efforts to integrate print and cyber news.

The Projected Process

Steps I thought it would take

  1. Call my mother to see if she remember when Jimmy Woods died. She thought it was the first of March.

  2. Log onto the Star Web site.

  3. Navigate to "sections" and then chose "obituaries."

  4. Fill in Jimmy's name in a search box.

  5. Retrieve obituary

Steps it Actually took

  1. Call my mother to see if she remember when Jimmy Woods died. She thought it was the first of March.

  2. Log onto the Star Web site.

  3. Navigate to "sections" and then chose "obituaries."

  4. The page opened to a list of obituaries by date.

  5. There is no search mechanism for names.

  6. The user must remember the date of the death.
    Worse yet the list does not include dates specifically. You must guess the date.

  7. I try several of the "March" dates. Finally I find Jimmy's obit.

  8. Retrieve obituary

This task proved much more difficult than I anticipated. I proved much more frustrating and enlightening. I expected that because I knew the paper, this would be an easy task. I believe my paper's web navigatgion and user interface fails to meet the test of a good Web site.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Color Pallate

I chose a photo with subtle shades -- one which happened to be close to Carolina Blue. I had the most difficulty getting my color pallate out of Photoshop Elements. In fact, it's still in there and I can't figure out how to bring it over.

But the predominate colors were used to recolor the blog itself and used in the typography as well as in the backgrounds. I also wanted to connect to a real person and emotion that I could integrate into the site as well. What this means is that I wanted the little girl, who appears to be one with the monkeys that surround her, to symbolize the integration of color and emotion into the site itself.

Finally, I picked a color from the girl's shirt and made the text beneath her. Carolina Journeys symbolizes both the trip through this coursework and a real journey the child might take as she travels through Carolina and the imagination of "being one of the monkeys." This sense of imagination and wonder is what I hope to capture with my posts.


Expansion. Migration. Compression. Elimination.

This proved a challenging creative process that began with a trip through my Oxford American Unabridged. I wanted to know the shades of meaning in each one.
Then I began to think of each word telling a visual, stand-alone story based upon one of the major shades of meaning from the dictionary. This became the narrowest opportunity for success. Essentially, I had one opportunity to have a user comprehend the meaning that I illustrated in text only.

According to Prof. Jakob Nielsen, text as graphics is a "No!". However, I am rethinking there may be appropriate ways to use text to tell the story.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mom & the Museum

"But You Can't Park There!"

So, Mother, Josh, and I are headed out to explore Nothern Virginia and maybe D.C. We all love museums. We all love different types of museums. We hate the crowds that flow like lemmings to the big tourist museums. We've narrowed our choices to two -- the George Washington Masonic Lodge in Alexandria and the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.

Mom: 75, knees give out easily and she may need a wheel chair to get back to the hotel. Since we are staying in Alexandria, we've arranged for a wheel chair from the hotel, which we will take with us.
<National Masonic Lodge. Josh can explore the floors devoted to the Knights Templar... the Tall Cedars... and even get a bird's eye view of the seaport of Alexandria from the 7th story observatory.

Then there's the Spy Museum that fills two city blocks in Washington D.C.

The Food
If we choose the Masonic Museum, we can eat on the water and get a taste of British goods, with the Tea Room. The prices vary from 7-15 dollars for entrees and there's tea and wonderful desserts for Josh to get a fill of tasty goodies.

The Spy Museum houses two on site choices --a cafe with the usual fare of hotdogs and sandwiches. There's a reservations preferred restaurant open during the museum hours. The restaurant bosts a "spy atmosphere". This may draw Josh's interests
. --The Best Web Site

The George Washington Masonic Lodge Web site

FREE ADMISSION OPEN TO THE PUBLIC DAILY from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Except Major Holidays Guided Tower Tours Daily at 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Masonic Tours (details below) are on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 2:00 p.m. and once each month on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Please call for details. The next Masonic Tour will be on Saturday, May 26, 20.
The museum also offers special tours for the disabled. I wasn't able to find information about parking, but a phone call that was returned almost immediately by a kindly gentleman told me parking was free on the property. They even have an escort for the disabled. Could Be Better Web Site

Located just Northwest of the White House, the Spy Musuem sounds like an intrigue dream. The Web site is a bit confusing because the HOME page is really a listing of events. To find your information, you must learn to go to the "plan to visit" link. You have to guess your way through the site. I will say that once you find your way around, it's fairly straight forward to navigate. While I am certain that Josh will love the Museum, it's not clear whether the museum offers a slow pace with lots of opportunities for seniors like my mother. Another concern is parking. all the Web site says is that there are plenty of garages within walking distance. This lack of information is despite a section on the Plan Your Visit site for Adults, Seniors, and Children. The map is very good, but knowing exactly where to park is a challenge. This is a pretty Web site, but it's not always functional.

Assignment 14: Persona

Meet Bill Grimm, retired industrial painter, who lives at the end of Harry-Davis Lane which terminates just past Hall Park in the Near North Neighborhood of zip code 55411, a sprawling northwest neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Like 39 percent of his neighbors in this urban, Grimm, 68, has lived in his two bedroom, one bath home on a quarter acre lot for more than 20 years. The houses in this section of Ward 5 tend to be solid, older and built before 1939. In what Grimm terms "gentrified circles", they call his home a "city bungalow."

He and his wife, Alice, raised three daughters here. The girls, grown now live in other Ward 5 neighborhoods of the same zip code. That's typical of the residents. Many are third generation homeowners and more than 60 percent of the homes are owned rather than rented. When he was working, Bill made "good money" because he was in the union. Now that he is retired, that union pension helps him live comfortably with twice the average income of his fellow senior citizens. They live on an average of $31,500 a year.

When Bill and Alice aren't visiting grandchildren or working in their gardens, they enjoy the neighborhood street parties. Alice makes the best cheese pies and fried ravoli and she's always on the look out for new recipies. That's why the couple subscribes to the Sunday paper only. There are recipes along with money saving coupons. Retired and conservative in their spending, Bill and Alice like the "tried" and "true." The are brand loyal. They don't experiment much.

However, Bill saw how the use of computers improved productivity on the job site where he was a supervisor, and he bought a computer. It's a DELL DIMENSION, circa 2000 with Windows ME and Internet Explorer 6 and AOL. He has enjoyed keeping up with friends who've retired and moved South. He's also discovered a few sites for researching his fly fishing interests and Alice has found a few good home and garden sites. But Bill is not an adventurer. He jokes that his response to a "Midlife Crisis" way back when was putting a luggage rack on his mini-van.

He needs to see how things work and find value in them before trying them. Bill stopped subscribing to the daily newspaper and rarely checks the TwinCities Web site after a redesign left him bewildered as to where to find his favorite column on fly fishing.

He's not opposed to new things, but they have to make sense. He doesn't mind the changes in Ward 5 that are bringing young, hardworking people to his neighborhood. Bill understands that these young professionals bring new life to his beloved city.

Gary Larsons

One of the young professionals who finds value in The Near North neighborhood is Gary Larsons, a project manager for Welch-Abbott, a small advertising firm in the heart of Minneapolis. Gary works with words and ideas all day. Therefore, he likes thinking abstractly and is willing to learn about any new idea.

After finishing his communications program at Northwestern University, Gary married a fellow student and Minneapolis native. They moved to her home neighborhood as quickly as they could find work. Gary enjoys the clean air, the parks, where he's likely to be found running, the lakes where he sails and he loves ice skating.

The Near North neighborhood appealed because of its amenities -- proximity to the center of the city, the older homes on graceful lanes and a canopy of trees. He and his wife, Jennifer, live on Plymouth Avenue -- literally across from Bill and Alice. But their interests and work schedules make them neighbors in passing. Gary represents the new neighbors moving into Bill and Alice's neighborhood. Now, more than half the neighborhood is made up of young, professionals of African American and Hispanic origins. The African American population tends to be college educated, with higher incomes than the rest of their neighbors. Gary makes about $48,000 a year.

Gary is among the young professionals moving into Ward 5, snapping up the low cost sturdy homes, pouring sweat equity into remodeling them, while retaining the area's charm. Because he'd rather be outdoors and not in stores, Gary prefers to shop on line, and he's accustomed to navigating the Web. He runs Windows XP on one of his laptops -- Microsoft Office 2003 -- he hates 2007!

On his MAC he edits a newsletter and maintains a small video production suite with Final Cut Pro.

Gary gave up Twincities because he found it "clunky" and outdated. He would go back if the content were more to his interests and more in depth. He can read national headlines on any site and he's not too concerned with Minneapolis-St. Paul sports.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Color & the Economy

My film professor had a theory about production design, color and lighting that linked those elements to moods of the people and events in the actual world.
He believed that in times of greatest upheaval, films became brighter, colors more intense and the lighting more artistic to highlight certain aspects of a character's emotion. During times of peace, color and lighting became darker, more intense and more abstract. To check out his theory in color design, I picked 1931 -- two years after the Great Depression; 1971 -- the Vietnam War era; 1994 -- a year of relative peace and prosperity following the years of Desert Storm; and 2002 -- one year after the WTC and Pentagon attacks.

1931 --The Great Depression strangles the United States. the greens, yellows, blues and golden hues serve up a richness you don't see in the bleak world outside.
1971 -- The resistance to war and civil unrest yell from the streets. But inside, it's a bright yellow, hot pink and electric blue world.

2002 -Just months after the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon, these two ads speak of blue skies, vibrant colors and life lived in perfection.

Remember when President Bush said we should "go on about our daily lives"?

Apparently George Lucas heard him. The colors are the dark, deep, contrasting reds and blacks. They speak of the darkness of life and the conquest of good over evil.

Week 7 Design

Sundance Institute

I was surprised by this site and chose it after looking at the others. Because of my affinity for film and respect for the directorial work by Robert Redford, I anticipated a beautifully designed site containing multiple layers of information and philosophy created upon a consistent visual theme. I found much more and much less.

First the background design itself. A serene mountain home set against the rocks and orange hues of a Utah sunset. You can almost hear the water swooshing past in the river that runs past the cabin. Let’s see what emotions and thoughts does this bring to mind? A cabin offers serenity, a place of peace and a place to reflect and consider. Ernest Hemmingway went a way to a cabin to write. Thoreau spent two years at Walden Pond to write and reflect. When modern families want to relieve themselves of the pressures of life, they long for the serenity, peace and isolation of a cabin.

Comparison to Other Sites
If you take a look at other film sites, there is no reference to a specific place. For example, look at Tropfest, the Sony Pictures film festival. The graphics are bright – almost carnival colors – and the visual reference is to a sneeze. (the home page is password protected so I couldn’t load it onto this site.) The images evoke comedy and fun rather than a serious, almost isolated venue. The flash animation of text for graphics is jarring and disjointed. They distract from the information on the site and make the user feel that the site does not take its purpose seriously.

Another site that takes itself a bit more seriously, but still is about a film festival is the Tribeca Festival. ( ) More serious intent, but it’s strictly business on this site. There is no effort to emotionally connect one to the site. Both the Tropfest site and the Tribeca site depend upon high contrast, high resolution images to make bold points.
“Hey, look at me!” They seem to be saying. “I’ve got something to show you. I’m important.”

Then you land on the Sundance site with its forest greens of a Utah mountain glade, the burnt orange of a setting sun and the blue of a Western sky. You look at the boulders in front of the perfect cabin and you immediately can picture yourself sitting out on the rocks planning your next scene. The emotional appeal brings you an immediate sense of place and peace.

Then you read the headline in the first box to the right: “Get Inspired.” That changes to “Get Involved”, “Get Inside”, and “Get Connected”. These are coupled with video programs from Sundance principals or participants who speak about the themed topics.

This is where I felt the site disappointed. These videos were the only part of the design that detracted from the overall appeal. That is because of the need to wait for each one to load. Even with a high-speed connection, this seemed to take forever. It allowed my mind to wander off the site. I wanted to look at other things while I waited on the video to load. The second reason the videos were a disappointment was that I could not get them to stop once they loaded. The audio continued despite the attempts to “click off.” This took away the positive emotion brought by the graphic illustrations and continuity of color which appeared on each page.

The overall design and color of the Sundance Institute site supported the image and message. You felt you would be in some very special, richly creative place at the Sundance Institute. The site’s images make you want to sign up for a class -- even it you have no interest in film. You just want to be in that time and that place.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Brand

This is the OFFICIAL logo for DEI, Dale Earnhardt, Inc., a North Carolina motorsports company.
With all the interest surrounding NASCAR, I chose to take a look at branding and the loyalty a brand represents. Specifically, I narrowed my focus to one particular team that has become the public face of fan loyalty.
The Persuaders provided insight into the current emotional branding methodology. It's everywhere. You buy something, respond to an idea because of what the brand means to you. I searched everywhere for the history the DEI logo and found nothing. So if any of you have information, I'd love to know.
What I did learn is that the name "Earnhardt" evokes a passion akin to a religion. People make pilgrimages to the Earnhardt statue in the middle of his hometown, Kannapolis, North Carolina. In fact, Earnhardt's fans inspired the national best selling novel, St. Dale.
The interesting thing about the DEI Brand and THIS LOGO is that this is NOT the logo that inspires all the brand loyalty. It's the good old number 3. See the next entry.


This is NOT the official DEI logo. However it is the most recognized and most emotional logo in the racing world. It inspires joy, tears and fierce loyalty. Race fans are among the most brand-loyal in the United States. It is truly a lovemark in its purest definition.

A series on brand loyalty by ABC News 20/20 in 2001 showed that 90 percent of race fans purchase their driver's sponsored products regularly. The connection to the brand is aspirational.

Fans want to belong to a larger community of like-minded people.

According to AdWeek, it was downloadeded, printed and sold more than 10,000 times a day in 2006.

A similar study conducted by UNC Charlotte found this symbol ranked in the top 25 among logos that respondants correctly identified and recognized. That puts the number three in the same league as Coca Cola, Sony, Nike and Apple.

Truly Personal Connections

The closer the image appears to the fan, the closer the fan feels to anything Dale Earnhardt. Here you see the officially licensed number on underwear. They even make available on thongs.


You see this logo everywhere -- from the back glass of pick-up trucks to the custom license plates of a Lexus.
The "Dale Devotees" understand the deep, abiding connection to their beloved hero.
There's a human evolution of this brand.
You will see it sometimes in the crowd shots of the infield at speedways. Just look for people who are holding up three fingers of one hand and making small an index finger to thumb circle over the "3" with their other hands.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Failure to Communicate

What were they thinking?
That's what I ask myself every time I see this logo. It makes absolutely no sense to me. At first, I thought the people were floating in some sort of strange outer world, where they struggled to survive. Their legs dangle, and rest on empty balloons that I mistook for whales and eyeless fish.
The whole image seems like a storyboard for a Tim Burton animated film.
I cannot see what the image has to do with the purpose of the organization.
Good communication must effectively integrate the purpose of the organization with visual elements. None of that exists here. I am lost.
But below are some examples that I think work well.


Do we need to say more after you look at this sign? Without a word, it is the essense of the phrase, "a picture is worth a thousand words." You can easily understand the entire photo's message. Winter. Snowman and inside that cabin -- warmth and the glow of a content winter-dweller. It's great how one photo can symbolize an entire season. With the deer beside the snowman, the image also conveys the idea of serenity with nature. For all those reasons, I think this symbol is a good metaphor and an equally effective communication.

Culturally Laden Sign

When you see this symbol, what comes to your mind and heart?
Are you stirred by any emotion? The answer depends upon your perspective with regards to the United States. But this one has it all. The determination of Americans as seen in the eyes of the Eagle. The flag of freedom on the large bird's cheek. I beleive this is a good design for all those reasons. It cannot be mistaken for any other purpose.
The reason it communicates well is the same as why it is a good design. No one can mistake the message here. It's all about America.

Public Usage Signage

This sign begins with the standard, "NO PARKING" in large easy to read, red letters on a white background. Beneath the clearly stated purpose of the sign, the head of a Native American in stoic profile further catches the reader's eyes. You actually take the time to study a sign that at first blush would get minor notice. After all, we see, "no parking" signs all the time. But this one compells one to read further. Once you do, you see the humor and the irony in the sign.
It communicates is purpose well because it seems to be a humorous way to get the reader and the driver NOT to park in that spot. This is an effective communication on many levels. It's eye catching and easy to understand. It compels you to read the entire sign. Finally, it leaves you with a laugh. So it has accomplished its mission effectively.

Friday, January 26, 2007

What the Rest of the World Thinks

The name may bring images of povery on lined, hopeless faces. Bib overalls and Jed Clampett.
For those of us who call this stretch of the Southwest Virginia mountains home, we carry the spirit of the people -- love and a will that cannot be crushed -- with us.
The goal of this week's posting is to share the sterotypes and the reality.
By the way. It's pronounced "Ap- pul-la-cha." Not " Ap-pul- LAY-chu."


Mountain Star -- Thomas Jones

In Big Stone Gap, Virginia, they'll shoot you over a contested call in a high school football game.

Everyone claims ownership of the best players. So it will be no surprise that everyone will be parked in front of a TV set to watch the Super Bowl.

Heck, they may even open Town Hall to watch the Super Bowl. .. and they will be pulling for the hometown hero.

A Good Day's Work

Between 1993 and 1997, not a underground coal miner died from a fire or explosion. But during that time, the number of unionized mining operations dropped significantly.
The escalating number of underground fires, tragic accidents and deaths have been in non-union mining operations, where safety standards and training are at minimum federal levels.
However, with fewer and fewer unionized coal operators in business, there is less and less training for the miners and less oversight for underground safety.
Miners who work for union companies enjoy great pay - between $30 and $60 an hour -- plus benefits, company safety standards and continual training.
They also participate in programs to make the mine operations safe, including the landmark Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.
This brought standards for safety and compensation for miners affected by Black Lung Disease.

The current federal safety efforts are supported by both the National Mining Association and the United Mine Workers Union.

Dark as a Dungeon

Imagine never seeing the light of day and loving it.

My grandmother said that "Miners go to work with the dark."

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Lights! Camera! Action!

Nothing more exciting than being the center of attention. As you can see in this photo, it tells the story of a reluctant "star." The look on the gentleman's face says it all.

"Are we done, yet?"
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The Actor

What do you see in thhis photo? Kids acting on stage? That's where Chelsea -- the kid in the orange shirt and blue hat -- lives. And she's front and center. That's why I think this photo tells a story that represents her life.

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Virginia Born.. Tarheel bred

They say that you can leave Carolina, but Carolina never leaves you. I never wanted to be a Tarheel. The Cavaliers of Old Dominion were my dream. But the family moved. Out of state tuition unattainable. So, a 'heel I became.

Now, I've raised another future generation of Heels, despite the fact that I moved home to Virginia.

Welcome to my site. As we say back in the hills of Virginia, where I'm from, "Sit a spell."

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The Littlest Tarheel

This is Chelsea, my daughter and a working actress. She wants to go to Carolina to follow in the footsteps of
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The Third Generation of Tarheels Begins

This is my son, Travis. He's in Uncle Sam's Navy right now. When he was a child, the first poem he learned was from a cross-stitch that hung in his grandparents' house. The verse went like this:
"When I'm an old alumnus with
a grandchild on my knee,
I'll teach him that the
alphabet begins with U-N-C."
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Computer Interface