The Art of Sharing

The need for proper design in all digital creations is paramount. Despite the wealth of information and insight that my be present in a given website, blog post, wiki or other media the viewer makes snap judgements about how long to look for the “gold.”

Having recently produced a number of new web-based media, I found myself wishing I had done these readings some time ago. As a film lover with a limited art background and being relatively proficient at what the Japanese refer to as kengaku, or learning through observation, I am still quite pleased with:

 

  • the layouts I have used
  • the fonts I have chosen
  • my focus on the use white space
  • my use of transitions

I feel confident they have served me well. The readings focusing on writing were my biggest sources for concern and the area I have identified as weak points. As quoted in a recent Slate piece Lazy Eyes: How we Read on the Web

A good editor should be able to cut 40 percent of the word
count while removing only 30 percent of an article’s value.

I’ll be honest with you, the idea of cutting off my verbosity scares me. I love to riff. I like to let my sentences run down long, winding paths, rife with commas and connectives, jumping to connected thoughts and weaving complex abstractions and references. To me this is good writing. Keeping it simple will take some learning. I suppose, however, a few less commas and a restricted flow-of-consciousness in my writing in this one genre will be worth the reward of increased exposure and an expanded digital footprint.

But wait! Read on…

When we like a text, we read more slowly.
When we’re really engaged in a text, it’s like being in an effortless trance.

Yes, surely this is it. I will never be as referenced as Noam Chomsky, but that’s ok. For one, I lack his mammoth intellect, and for another, really, is my purpose to become a famous blogger or to share and direct like-minded individuals to my more erudite thoughts once in a while? Yes, surely this is it. I can use shorter paragraphs. I already like to use bullet points. Maybe I will start my own style. One sentence. Space Two sentences. Space. Three sentences. Space… Heck, maybe I should write this in the new style! EDIT: Too late now, maybe next time:-)

Google’s, Eye-tracking Studies: More Than Meets the Eye offers interesting insights into how this giant search engine is improving its services though really didn’t impact on my own design thoughts. I found it technically fascinating however, as was the piece, Media Literacy, Questioning Video, Film, Advertising & Propaganda: Deconstructing Media Messages.

Having always been concerned with the incredible amount of money spent on research to make us buy and do things we might not otherwise be inclined to do pitted against the nothing we do to understand it… (CHOMSKY). The resources for teachers for this fundamental missing piece in most (all?) curricula are waiting for me in my iPad reading list to be employed come fall. As a related ‘flash forward’ here, this weekend’s workshop, Authentic Assessment and Digital media in the Classroom is perfectly timed for me to help my students with the project based learning task of creating documentaries taking their social studies work further. We have already started assessing design elements of other educational videos in science class as a crossover. I will shortly be tweaking my rubric to align it more with the International Society for Technology in Education‘s National Education Technology Standards for Students

That design and layout influence effective communication is axiomatic. That teaching these skills is overlooked is neglectful. High achievement in the workplace is largely dependent on a multitude of skills. Presentation and communication skills are necessary to effectively share what you know and can do and the more artistically you can manage the requisite tools the better able you are to influence others and get want you want. I have a low-level executive friend at Coca-Cola who was basically told to pick up his presentation game if he ever wished to climb higher up the ladder. This was the message he received after reporting the huge success he was sharing in terms of reducing operating expenses while raising revenues in the quarter! The medium is the message?

I myself made a presentation for a job interview that I largely credit with landing the job. (BIG thanks to Kim for helping me make this career redirect). I was happy they actually let me give it but really think it allowed me to showcase my stuff.

In essence, the focus for this week was insightful and enjoyable. Wonderful stuff. I embrace it wholeheartedly. One final note I will add here is that some of the obviously high traffic sites I have been directed to for COETAIL readings have added so much ‘flash’ in terms of advertising or fancy transitions that they are hard to read without interruption during my daily commute. They take too long to load or cause Safari to shut down on my iPad. Something I will keep in mind should I decide to look for more traffic in the future.

Please take a look at my Hub, the central portal to all of my other online incarnations for a survey of how I have incorporated design elements to maintain viewer interest and create an easy, user-friendly environment.

As always, I welcome commentary, here on my blog or on any of the other places you may find me.
Thanks for reading. Hey… FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER! I share only what may be helpful and retweet some of the best.

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About Sean Thompson

Sean has accepted a position as the Director of Technology at The Early Learning Centre, City School, in Bangkok. He is excited to be working with Giovanni Piazza and the rest of the staff to raise awareness of digital-age teaching and learning practice in this Reggio Emilia inspired environment. Sean is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, an International Baccalaureate Educator Network Workshop Leader and a Google Educator available for professional development at your school.
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