Played at the Progressive Organizing Center Grand Opening Office Warming Party in SF last night, and peace activist extrordinaire, Medea Benjamin, gave her speech into my microphone. It was actually the first microphone I ever purchased. Got it about 25 years ago. It’s obviously pretty sturdy. It’s an Audio Technica dynamic microphone, although I don’t remember the model. It’s still in my car or I’d have a look to see if the numbers are on it anywhere.
We were there to support Emily Drennen for the District 8 Bart Board. Anyway, fun show, but I was exhausted from an intense work schedule combined with the start of school for my kids, which means getting up 2 hrs earlier than I did last week. I was sitting “backstage” with Walter, the drummer for The Kat Downs Conspiracy. We were the only people there when a thin, serious woman with straight blonde hair and another woman with grey, crazy hair came up the stairs. They looked at Walter and me with a “what the hell is this” expression. I returned a “what the hell were you expecting” expression, and they continued walking, going upstairs for a short time and then returning to the party. Straight blonde, serious, thin turned out to be Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, and peace activist who was dragged out of the Democratic Convention in handcuffs because she unfurled an anti-war banner.
She was quite a talker and gave a good speech to the crowd. She had just returned from the Middle East where she and her group had toured Lebanon. Apparently the Lebanese blame the United States for Isreal’s latest invasion and bombing, and put signs on the bombing sites saying things like “american bombs killed 4 people here” and such. She was visiting a bombing site where 36 people had been killed in a residential area, and was asked where she was from. Against advice she told them she was from the United States, and the guy who asked went into his pocket. She was afraid he was going to pull out a gun and shoot her, but instead he pulled out a chocolate bar and gave it to her, saying “Americans want to kill us, but we want to be your friends and give you chocolate” or something like that. It was a very touching part of the speech, but I find it hard to believe that a guy in the desert is going to be walking around with a bar of chocolate in his pocket. Anyone who has put a bar of chocolate in their pocket will know that, even in the most temperate climes, it will melt and leak out of the wrapper in no time. Not to cast doubt on the story at all, but I don’t get that part. Maybe it was a tootsie roll or something.
Politicians like to talk and don’t like to stop. After the politicians came the wanna-be politicians. By the time we played our set, there was just the support act, Bright Brown, people who worked there, and a street person watching us. The street person really enjoyed the show though and said we would be a hit in Union Square!
The task of information design aims to break down and organize the information that is to be presented on the Web site in a way that facilitates easy retrieval by the target user group or groups. You generally start with a large volume of information that is not necessarily organized in a Web-friendly manner if it is organized at all. Your job as a information designer is to break down, organize and present that information on the Web site you will be designing.
The main tools at your disposal to create a great information architecture are as follows:
- Content Outline
- Site Map
Discovery means finding out everything you can about how the Web site will be used. Who will the users be? What will they be looking for? What tasks will they perform? What content will be provided and what is the hierarchy of importance? To learn this you need to go beyond what the client hands you, and find out as much as you can about their industry, their position in that industry, and their target audience.
Identifying all the information to be included in the site upfront is very important. Finding out in the middle of a project that you have a whole category of information that you hadn’t counted on can send you back to the drawing board and waste a lot of everyones time. Of course clients will often think of something they want to add after you have started or even completed the design. A good discovery phase in which the client is closely involved will make that less likely.
Now that you have that big pile of information, it is time to break it down. The Content Outline should indicate every bit of information that will be found on the web site and determine the hierarchy of that information given the goals of the Web site. I recommend no more than 7 categories on any level of the outline. More than that will be difficult of the user to comprehend in a glance, thus making your design unintuitive. Too few categories per level will hide the structure from the user in the depth of the site.
Site Maps are basically web versions of flow charts. They are visual representations of the site structure and hierarchy and should include everything you have in the outline. It is helpful to number them in a way that corresponds to your content outline. The site map will allow you to work out the basic navigation of the site and show the way in which pages link to one another.
Now that you have a basic feel for the navigation of the site you can create Wireframes. Wireframes are schematic versions of the finished web pages. They will include specific information about navigation and content of each page, but not necessarily the page layout. That comes later, in the graphic design phase. Wireframes can even be done as HTML pages with working links to give the client a feel for the navigation. This will also allow you to perform usability testing if you desire.
Once you have your wireframes completed, you have enough information about your content to move on to the graphic design phase.
I haven’t had access to my one and only Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Californication, since my divorce and subsequent CD divy. I loved the album and listened to it for a good couple of months solid, most notably when I was installing a new garage door opener. The task took me longer than it should have, with the removal or the old broken one, installation, and setting of all the tensions and sensors. Probably a good week of after-work sessions. And I listened only to Californication.
Since I had forgotten how much I liked their music, I didn’t jump at the first concert call by my friends. When a ticket became available at the last minute, I went.
To make a long story short:
1. Traffic/Parking=Medium Bad, Raiders game at same time.
2. Drinking=Yes. Concert tailgaiting bonus!
4. OpeningBand=Mars Volta, good but girl-voiced lead singer (man) + long jam all-the-time
5. Danced-a-lot=Yes (rhcp only)
6. Moshpit=No! Not allowed. Much standing and looking (weird).
My friend, Kevin, who was the concert mastermind and illegal camera phone photographer has yet to send me some pics. So more to come (maybe)…
As part of “Music In The Park,” San Jose’s free summer concert series, the English Beat played in Plaza de Cesar Chavez. Beers were $6. I drank a Refreshé brand bottled water that I had purchased in bulk at Safeway earlier in the week. Since the English Beat, (not to be confused with The Paul Collins American Beat) had their heyday in the early to mid 80′s there were a lot of old people there:
I arrived during the The Odd Numbers set, who were playing in the support slot. They looked a little balder, older and less mod than when my band, Love Gone Mad, opened for them at Marsugis over 10 years ago. During that show the guitar player’s strap broke and he was forced to borrow my wide, ugly leather strap, ruining his sharp mod appearance. At that time they all wore matching 60′s suits complete with skinny ties. I also believe all guitars were Rickenbacker. He looked slightly disturbed inititally, but continued on to play a great set. This time, no such misfortune, just good old “The Jam” sounding rock.
Some of the old people noticed that when the announcer introduced the English Beat, he mentioned just about every musical genre except country and ska (ska being the correct categorization of the music they play). The only original member and apparent owner of the “English Beat” trademark was Dave Wakeling. Joining him on guitar was Lynval Golding, the original guitar player for The Specials, another original Two Tone british ska band from the ’80s.
They opened with “A Message to you Rudy,” which is actually a Specials’ song, but I like them too, so it sounded good to me. Very good indeed. They proceeded to play only good songs, which included almost the entire first album “I Just Can’t Stop It.” Then they played the hits from later albums (3 or 4 in total, I believe), and closed with another Specials song “Enjoy Yourself.”
This is what the show would have looked like if you forgot your glasses:
Instead of an encore, we were presented with members of the “Kids of the World International Conference” or something like that. International kids involved though, so can’t complain. Just be politely cleared out of the park by the SJ Police. Worked for me.
Yesterday my kids and I watched the Pleasanton Playhouse’s production of The King and I, with my nephew Max in the role of Louis, Anna’s son, and my niece Bridget (4th from the left) as a royal child. Very good acting and singing all around. M&M cookies and water during intermission. A good time was had by all.
As a footnote to my Manu Chao concert posting, my friend, who stayed for the encore, told me the guy just wouldn’t get off the stage. He played 5 additional songs, and then at the end, the band left the stage as they had entered, 1 by 1 while playing a song. When only the guitar player remained, Manu snuck up behind him, and the two of them played another song. Would have missed BART for sure if I would have stayed to see that. Next time I’ll drive.