Tag Archives: history

Flash and journalism

The following piece is a class assignment for a web design course for journalists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Flash is not only used to make a website look slick but can better convey news stories on the web.

National Geographic developed a very creative site called Inside 9/11, which uses Flash to better tell complex stories pertaining to September 11th, 2001. 

The page features a section of video archives called “Inside 9/11 Interviews.” When opened, viewers see a display of many photos of people, and a side bar on the left. Site visitors can click people’s images, then watch a video interview of the person and/or read a transcript of the interview, read a short biography, and see suggested interviews. Once a person’s video interview has been watched or clicked on, the thumbnail ‘grays out’ so viewers know what they have or have not clicked. The sidebar lists subjects partaining to 9/11, and when the mouse moves over the subject bar, interviews on the topic are highlighted.

I like the Flash piece because it takes the documentary concept and adapts it to the web. Video clips are archived in an organized yet creative way. It widens the opportunity for telling stories and the news, and, now, a piece of history. It also allows viewers to interact with these archival materials. They can easily choose the subjects they want to learn more about. The information provided shows how people and subject matters are connected providing a timeframe and context, while an emotional stories are also told. Other types of media are much more linear, meaning someone has to read or watch materials from the beginning to the end, where as this Flash site allows people to ‘jump around.’

The site is quite complex and I am not sure how it was made in Flash and/or javascript. It seems the author(s) used a function like in Flash’s ‘button editing mode.’ When the mouse moves over a subject in the sidebar, people related to that subject are highlighted. When the mouse clicks the bar, a sound effect is applied and the interviewees are highlighted in red as the ‘lock into place’ for viewers to click on.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Web Design For Journalists

On A Hill

May 23, 2010

Click to play a slideshow of On A Hill

I often walk this hill.

I imagine when my great grandparents and my grandmother and her siblings finally settled at the foot of this immense mound, they had already looked up at its greatness for several years.

I imagine them, maybe, walking about the hill, maybe, taking a break from farming the land. And, really, I can only imagine them looking over the valley and seeing woods covering Sunderland, Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Easthampton, and beyond, that little more exist.

Sun setting and rain a few miles away.

 

I imagine my mom riding her horse around this hill, young like me. That’s what I imagine her doing here.

When I look from the top of this hill, I see the farm, still in the family; my parents’ work hard for a life I’m not sure I will take on.

I see the University of Massachusetts, treetops, crevasses where there are major roads, and mountains I believe exist in the works of Erastis sailsburyfield.

So many times I have walked up this hill – with neighbors, family, friends, horses, dogs, boyfriends, Sean.

Mostly, I feel, it’s the one thing here that isn’t stale.

Clover.

When I was young, a real child, and the hill was covered in snow, just so the grass couldn’t poke through, I would walk alone making footprints with intensions, walking backwards.

If the snow melted in the sun and hardened into a half inch of crust at night, we would all scurry our way up the hill, and slide down, and dive off whatever our vehicle was before hitting pickers at the bottom.

When the snow was light, we would hitch up the horse to the sleigh and ride up and around on sunny days.

When there was no snow, no mud from the spring thaw, and the grass was short, we’d ride the horses around there too. I think my earliest memories of being on the hill is of my parents shifting me on and off the front of the saddle; one of them always holding me around my tummy.

That might have been before they rented the field out, but I don’t really know.

One renter planted cow corn. The neighbors and I would run through the isles of tall stalks, getting whipped by long fuzzed leaves.

Click to play a slideshow of On A Hill.

Later on, we got a new renter, who does hay. It was always fun to climb the gold bails, to try and push them around. We were all too weak and young. I’m pretty sure we all loved the smell, of the dried grass warming in the sun. The dust would tickle our noses.

Before we were of age, we learned how to drive out there. Before grandma died, when I was practicing how to drive, we put her in the car too. She liked going for rides. She told me to put the pedal to the metal, of course I didn’t. I always think about that when I’m driving and I think of grandma.

I was real sad then, when I was in high school. I did a lot of imagining. I would always imagine romantic affairs up there. Who wouldn’t want to be up the hill, seeing everywhere, so far, with someone you love who loves you back? But I was mostly alone then.

So, sometimes I would take the dog up there – just the two of us. She was really my mom’s dog, and I could never have loved her as much, but it made me happy to see the dog prancing through grass three feet high or snow three feet deep. Then we’d have to pick the tics off her, or melt away the beads of snow caught in her paws. Once she bit a porcupine up there and it took days to get the quills out. That was a long night.

Fallen and dried.

Mostly we go up there at night anyways, I mean, when the sun is setting, at the end of the day. Sometimes, we all would walk up there and see UMass lit up at night. It was even easier to see the stars, the Milky Way, the moon.

Today, I walked up there with my camera. It’s a good camera. I can take some pretty good photos. The grass was mixed in with clover. The hill is passed spring, so there is no mud and the anthills are underway. It’s not ready for hay, hasn’t even been planted. Actually, I don’t know if it will. But I have to walk carefully, like my parents would always tell me, not to tramp all over the clover and grass. So, I walked carefully, trying not to trample all over the hill. I took some pictures. And, really, what I thought this time is, man, it’s going to be hard to leave this, one day.

Click to play a slideshow of On A Hill

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, documentary

London’s Docklands

The average tourist might not realize it, but, having its roots in the Roman and medieval times, London’s Docklands is historically known as a port region. As the shipping industry fell out of significance in the middle 20th century, so did the region of the Docklands and the communities it fostered. The region direly needed regeneration. In the last 20 to 50 years many issues were solved by revitalization planning, however some social issues remain and are continuously being addressed as infrastructural changes are still being developed.

The Museum of London Docklands.

 

The Docklands is a region of East and South London consisting of the boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Newham, and Greenwich. The area served as the Port of London, which was once one of the world’s largest shipping ports. The land has always been immersed in water and swamp marshes thus unsuitable for agriculture and posing particularities for architecture. The area was an isolated part of London, as few roads existed linking the area to central London. The Docklands was a divided community between the poor ship workers and the wealthy ship insurers.

Some small boats in the water ways.

 

By the mid 20th century, shipping and shipbuilding fell out as new technology and containerization, or cargo transport, was implemented. Ship builders lost work and competition significantly increased, as the docks were not able to accommodate many new carriers. When the docks began closing in the mid 1960s, workers were continuously laid off throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. The land was left empty, social classes divided, and communities suffering from unemployment and severe poverty. Warehouses and large-scale facilities became obsolete and deteriorated.

Just one of the many Docklands' canals.

 

Redevelopment plans began shortly after the dock’s closure. In 1968 the Port of London Authority sold the St. Katherine Dock to the Greater London Council, launching a competition to find a developer to regenerate the region. The idea was to develop the urban area and secure the physical, economic, and social aspects of citizen’s lives. However, it was applying the actual plan that took nearly a decade. Things were not being built as quickly as initially projected and people were still losing their jobs. Between 1978 and 1981, 10,000 jobs were lost and 9,000 people left the area.

Soon many landowners were involved, such as the Greater London Council, the Port of London Authority, British Gas, Central Electric Generating Board, and British Rail. By 1981, the London Docklands Development Corporation was created out of the Government Planning and Land Act of 1980 and by Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Heseltime. The LDDC now had to upgrade and use the current buildings, encourage industry and commerce development, ensue housing and social facilities, and create an attractive and peaceful environment. Improvements that took place between 1983 and 1984 were improved roads, buildings, and travel ways. But remaining issues pertained to chemical pollution, and other health and safety hazards. Sewage, drainage, and sanitation systems were soon updated. Tax incentives made way for the development boom.

Controversy came as the developments taking place were about creating luxury housing, aesthetically pleasing office spaces, and industrial buildings over affordable housing. Communities were suddenly being gentrified, as people were still facing unemployment, poverty, social issues, and struggling with the negative construction environment.

London's shipping history goes back several centuries.

 

While private investors and local governments worked to revitalize the area, it was the small communities that organized for change. The Association of Isle Communities, the Joint Docklands Action Group, the Docklands Forum, and more community organizations were set up in the 1970s to create change. These community action groups tried to bring tenants, workers, and businesses together to work with local planning councils to transform the policies based on what local citizens actually wanted. 

What further came from community organization was a niche activist culture consisting of people voicing their concerns through news articles, self-published magazines, pamphlets, and music, such as the song “Give Us Back Our Land” by Tough Cookies. They also organized public screenings of films, demonstrations, and concerts, as well as memorabilia such as coffee mugs and posters to spread the message about the Docklands not developing to their needs.

Teens and young adults hanging out in Greenwich.

 

While it was the LDDC that was largely instrumental in planning and beginning construction, it was the community organizers that made the push for appropriate physical infrastructure in the Docklands. Substantial development began taking place in the mid 1990s. Poor transport into the rest of London was relieved with the construction of the Docklands Light Railway and the London City Airport underwent needed upgrades. Finally, the LDDC began a campaign to bring office spaces and jobs to the area, however, faced criticism because it was still outsiders who were taking the open jobs and commuting in. But, similar to how buildings were transformed into office space, some buildings were transformed into large art spaces and places for artists to live, thus attracting a culture the current community was open to. Affordable housing became abundant, attracting more people to the Docklands.

Aesthetically artistic bridges.

 

The Docklands faced several ups and downs in the following ten years because of recessions and various monetary shortfalls. But development continued bringing the much needed resurrection to the Docklands. On March 31, 1998 the LDDC’s role came to an end. The Docklands was transformed with a new culture, new jobs, and a new way to travel. From the mid 1990s into the early 21st century, the working population nearly tripled bringing a thriving atmosphere to the region.

Still under construction.

 

Tourists and Londoners alike can learn more about the Docklands at the Museum of London Docklands, located near the West India Quay DLR stop. To learn more about the history of shipping in London a trip to the Docklands’ museum, the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory located in Greenwich will do the trick. And to get a holistic education of London since the dawn of human civilization, check of the Museum of London.

The National Maritime Museum - you will be surprised how cool it actually is.

 

At the Royal Observatory in the Greenwich region of London.

2 Comments

Filed under Culture, documentary, People, Politic

Photo of the Day – Overlooking Greenwich

April 16, 2010

Greenwich boasts a maritime museum, the Royal Observatory, and a great view.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, documentary

Ups and Downs of London’s Natural History Museum

London’s Natural History Museum is a real treat for adults and kids alike, however, I’m not sure it compares to other natural history museums such as the one in New York City or The Smithsonian. It has it’s ups and downs, and despite it’s lack of outstanding impression, I’d go back again.

The Down

What wasn’t great was the dinosaur exhibit. It’s not as big as one would expect. There aren’t that many fossils, and there might even be more posters and information cards up than bones around.

There's a good collection of animal specimens.

 

The Up

What was great was the ecology portion of the museum. The exhibit covers the basics of life on earth, the environment, climate, and ecosystems. It’s also a bit of eye candy for those who like beautiful and shimmering displays and shiny lights. And the kids will love the life size and blown up models of the farm and plant cells.

The ecology exhibits hosts a trace-like video encompassing nature, earth, oceans, and life.

 

Giant plant cell.

The Unique

What was unique about the museum was the exhibits on memory and how a baby is made. I’ve never seen such complex or unique exhibits like these at science museums or natural history museums. One could spend a half hour plus in each exhibit.

Exhibit on how babies are made.

 

The extensive memory and senses exhibit.

 

To Eat

If you get hungry, there are several eateries, but one can also bring a bag lunch and have that on the fronts steps or the museum’s side garden. 

When & When Not

Avoid going on Wednesdays and weekends if you can help it. If those are your only options, head out early because the line will be long – a half hour plus! So get there well before it opens if you want to get in early.

Impressive architecture.

3 Comments

Filed under Culture

Panoramic Tour of London

Last week I took a bus tour of London to see some sites, and this is what came out of it. Music is by fyrii. Shot on a Canon T1i. Edited with Final Cut Pro.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, documentary, People