Week 7: Scott Anderson response to viewings

I ran into the problem that creators of these interactive/participatory websites fear the most — frustration.

I began by looking at the site about the high rises first because it contained info I enjoy — history as it’s told with the collaboration of newspapers like the New York Times. As I began to interact with it by pausing the video and looking at the historical photos, I tried to go back to watching the video, but it just kept repeating in the same place and the video also wouldn’t match up with what story was being told. Frustrated, I then refreshed the whole thing and tried to get back to where I was, but this time, there was only audio and no video. I tried to move around on the site some more, but was just annoyed and didn’t get very far. This type of engagement proves that no matter how great your information is, the presentation (or lack of it) will go a long way in determining if it is successful or not.

From the little that I could understand about the highrise project, Saving the Sierra was different in that the highrise project told a story about how all of these highrise buildings came to be. Conversely, the Saving the Sierra project (the website was having all sorts of HTML issues when I viewed it, so it was not aesthetically pleasing at all) featured people who are actively trying to save the land so they have a real reason to collaborate with the makers of this documentary because it gets their message out that development is killing their land.

One thing that I kept asking myself as I viewed these sites was about the positives and negatives of collaboration. A positive of collaboration is that you can likely obtain more viewers or listeners because of the narratives of the people who are involved (however, I’d argue that in the Saving the Sierra stories, they didn’t really tell a rich backstory about the people involved and they were just voices and arguably not real people). A negative of collaboration is that you’re trying to encompass so many viewpoints or topics that your project is not strictly focused on the original idea.

One other area that interested me in the Saving the Sierra project was the use of background noise (particularly the walking sounds). At times, it felt like these sounds made the project authentic and that they were really out and about. Other times, the sounds were off-putting and I found myself noticing those sounds more than I was paying attention to what was being said.

I also found that prison website was interesting, particularly in the “what you can do” section. It had very pointed language about how “you” could help and what “you” can do in order to affect change. There was a definite sense of collaboration, with not only the ladies in prison, but what you can do to help amend the problems current and former prisoners face.

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