Saturday, September 26, 2009

EPJ/Multimedia Project Proposal

Amish people are best known for their simple living, plain dress and resistance to the adoption of many modern conveniences. A story is about their spirituality and its effect on their way of life. A question I hope to find an insightful answer to is that how the Amish views modern life (the rest of most Americans live) that is facilitated by modern conveniences.

Multimedia allows better story telling. First, photography enables me for visual representation of what their life is like. Second, I am able to create a sense of presence – of actually being there – by creating a layer of ambient sounds. Third, a combination of images and ambient sounds provides a context to reflections of interviewees. Through interviews, I hope to gain insights into their views on modern life.

According to Adam Brooke (, Missouri’s Amish population has been among the fastest-growing nationwide. There are an estimated 5000 Amish in Missouri, with the largest settlements at Jamesport and others at Clark, Stanberry and Seymour. Although the Amish have been in the state since 1850 or earlier, the oldest existing settlement is Bowling Green with smaller groups near Mt. Vernon, Kirksville and Windsor, and new settlements appearing periodically.

Once embarking on the project, I hope to spend enough time with them for getting as comprehensible details as possible. Most of the Amish settlements are 3~4 hours away (by car) from Columbia. I select the settlement at Clark because its location is 30 minutes away.

A potential problem in this project is their refusal to cooperating. Nevertheless, I believe in the possibility of soliciting their understanding and ensuing cooperation through nonconfrontational approach.

Monday, September 21, 2009

EPJ_web site critique

Content on this site is clear. It is slide show. The size of an image is large enough to see details while each it gets uploaded without substantial delay. The placement of each caption is reasonable, but it would aesthetically be better if the beginning of a caption was lined up with the top of an image. I wish the alignment of a caption is justified. Otherwise, its placement and text color works fine.

Interactivity of this site is minimal – changing pages by clicking arrows. It is a wise decision to make an audience flip pages instead of auto slide show. Since an audience has to read a caption, it is reasonable to let them flip pages. In addition, auto slide show makes an audience feel ‘controlled’. If it were my site, I would not include those links: ‘SIGN IN TO RECOMMEND’, ‘SIGN TO E-MAIL’, and ‘SHARE’. However, for newspapers like New York Times, those links can be important tools for making an audience interact. The placement of those links seems awkward. I am not convinced that they have to be below an image.

Navigation around the site is a bit confusing. It takes a while to figure out how to get back to the front page of NY times. ‘The New York Times’ and ‘U.S.’ are links, however, they are not obvious. At the last page of slide show, there is a link to get back to beginning. It is easy to recognize because it says, “Back to Beginning.”

Design on this site is simple yet effective. The subdued background is suitable for presenting images. My attention goes directly to the images because the background color is not disturbing. In addition, the background does not interfere with color images. The use of dark gray with white texts is easy on eyes. If the background were back, a combination of black and white would create high contrast, which is rather harsh on eyes. The design layout is appropriate for presenting slide show. Design for layout is simple yet elegant. The use of lines is effective for placing contents in place while preventing layout from becoming statically boxed.

The site is rather plain, but it is practical and operational. It may not be obvious, but the site reflects a design principle: less is more. With the use of subdued colors and simple lines, the site is in fact good.