News & Comment
I  N  T  E  R  A  C  T  I  V  E    D  E  S  I  G  N    F  O  R  U  M 
Issue 5   |   November 1999 


Graffiti & hip-hop... More student involvement = better critiques... Photoshop 5.5 vs. Fireworks 2
(Oct. 1999)

Swiss Design Quiz... Barcelona... AIGA / NASAD briefing paper... Response to Upgrade Junkies, Pt. 1
(Sept. 1999)

Upgrade junkies,
Part 1.

(Aug. 1999)

Report from International Design Conference at Aspen
(July 1999)

"Interactive Design" or "New Media?"
(July 1999)


If no author name is show, article is written by Al Wasco, author of this website.

Join in the conversation! Please send your comments on any article and/or suggestions for future articles by clicking on the [Email] link on any page.


...what I learn about you helps us both:
I know that sounds suspiciously like the notice from your bank (supermarket, telephone company, paperboy) that starts "In order to serve you better" and ends with more work and/or added fees for you. But let me explain.

At the bottom of my splash screen (home page) you'll see a counter that records the number of times someone has downloaded the page. What you don't see, though, are the other things the counter records when it counts your "hit."

Things like: the operating system (OS), screen resolution, and color depth of your computer; the browser you're using; what search engine you used and what keywords you searched for...and a few more things besides. It does NOT record your name, email address or any other personal identification.

So as of Nov. 1, 1999 I know that my typical visitor:

Uses Windows 95/98 (62% of total), Internet Explorer (57%), a monitor that is 800x600 pixels or larger (95%), 16-bit or higher color depth (89%), visits on a Wednesday (31%), and is from the U.S. (75%).

Why it's good that I know this:
Some of these terms may sound like mumbo-jumbo, but here's how they help us both. The idea behind the World Wide Web and HTML (its underlying code) is that anyone, anywhere, using any computer system or browser, should see the same thing. In reality, though, it doesn't work that way. If you use Netscape on a Mac this page will look slightly different than if you use Explorer on a PC. Usually, if the web designer knows her/his stuff and pays close attention, the differences will be minimal.

But occasionally the designer (me, in this case) can't make something work in both browsers, on both platforms, on any size screen at any color depth. So she/he has to decide which way to go. How to decide?

Aha! Look at the statistics.
If I know that most of my visitors have a large monitor, or use Explorer, or are from the U.S., I can make a reasonable decision about how big the graphic should be and what language to write the text in. These decisions have to be made all the time and ought to be based on the needs of visitors—you—rather than on my preferences or hunches.

So, in order to serve you better, I've recently switched to a neat little free counter from that's easy to use and gives me lots of information. I'll talk more about counters and other free web stuff in December's [RESOURCES] section. And in the interest of full disclosure, I use a Mac 8600 with a monitor set at 800x600, 32-bit color, use both browsers but Explorer most often, and live in Cleveland, Ohio.

What you like...
More information from the counters: Every month I update all sections of Interactive Design Forum, but some are more popular than others. Last month, for example, Bruce Cline's article on Evaluating Student Work was a big hit, second only to the runaway leader, [BEST OF].

Starting this issue, you can find what was hot in previous issues by checking the monthly [FEEDBACK] section.

Teaching computer-based media
If you teach any computer-related design course, you know that it's a constant struggle to stay on top of the latest developments in hardware and software. Even the aesthetics of interactive/multimedia design are in flux as the entire medium is still developing. Wouldn't you like more time to research and learn?

This report from the College Art Association has recommendations that make a lot of sense.

Good news in the mail...
One day last week, along with the usual fistful of junkmail, I received a letter from the Cleveland Desktop Publishing Users Group (CDPUG) telling me that my interactive impression of New York City, NY Minute, had won a Gold in its category (Multimedia) and Best of Show overall in the 1999 Digital Artz competition. That made my day for the rest of the week.

See a sample screen shot from NY Minute. For a 15-sec. Shockwave sample with sound (the best part), try here. If you're not sure what Shockwave is, or if your browser is capable of playing Shockwave movies, go to the Macromedia website to download the free software you need.

If you live in the Cleveland area and would like to see it, the Digital Artz show runs Nov. 11 through Dec. 5 at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood, OH.

And in an unusually busy month, I have two digital inkjet prints on display in the Tri-C West Faculty Art Show, Nov. 15 through Dec. 18 at the college's Gallery West in Parma, OH. If you think "computer art" is only Star Wars and techno-glitz, these nude figure studies may change your mind.


- Al Wasco 11/1/99





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