Weekly Wrap Up Week 4: Assignments and Framework

This week was rather different to the others that I have had. While MDI was rather similar, in Designing for the Web we had an assignment due, and on top of that we didn’t have a live lecture this week.
Because we had an assignment due this week, a lot of our tutorial was focused on fixing up our assignments. This was the case because a major part of the assignment was creating a website. I had already completed mine fully, so during this time I was able to update the CSS and make it look more professional. Surprisingly I really enjoyed doing this assignment, because, while I had to do research, I also had to create a website, which meant I got to use my knowledge in HTML and CSS to its (almost) full potential. And the topics that I got to do my research on were interesting as well. We were given a list of topics, and I chose “Mobile UXD” and “User Generated Content”. I chose these because I know that they will both (hopefully) be useful to me in the future. If anyone’s interested, I would be happy to upload my website/assignment, just leave a comment below.
This was me last week
This was me last week
In the lecture for Managing Digital Information we mostly talked about frameworks, which is very similar to what we have been talking about before with systems of classifying objects, however they tend to be more in-depth versions. The example that stood out to me the most was Dublin Core, because I understand that KOS, which I will discuss later. We also talked about Meta-data and XML, however I don’t quite understand a lot of that, so I’ll need to do some more research.
In the tutorial this week we talked specifically about Dublin Core, with the basic 15 elements and then the further elements after that. We were given an image of a nudibranch (a type of australian shelled animal), and then had to determine what core elements would be appropriate for it. From there, we discussed it in relation to different types of documents, and it was mentioned that the way we index this document is based on what type of document it is. For example, if it’s a digitised photograph of a shell, like this document it, we would have to decide is the document the photograph, or is it the shell itself. This would then affect most of the categories, which is really important to note for all types of categorising.

Weekly Wrap Up Week 4: It’s all connected

Week 4 was the week that my subjects finally overlapped. If you’ve been reading these weekly wrap ups, you should know by now that in Designing for the Web we’ve been talking about the usability of websites, and for Managing Digital Information we discuss databases and categorisation. However this week the topics switched.
In Designing for the web this week we talked about categorising information. We mostly discussed how it was done, pretty much what we have been discussing in MDI, however there was more of a focus on how good categorisation makes things a lot easier and better for the user. In the lecture, we kept on going back to the example of Online Shopping. This was really good because it’s steeped in real life, and it uses all of the same principles that I have been learning in Managing Digital Information. Our lecturer outlined the importance of having a consistent categorisation system in order to help the user. If you look at the image below, of the Forever 21 categorisation system. We noted that because the categories are obvious, and easy to find (or intuitive if you like the ‘proper language’), it makes the user experience so much better, which creates customer loyalty, and increases sales.
Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 12.38.40 pm
Our lecture referenced a lot of the vocabulary that I have learnt already in Managing Digital Information, which was in my opinion really good because it reinforced my understanding on the terms, and for the rest of my peers that haven’t done MDI yet it exposed them to terms that they are going to learn next year. We also mentioned one of my favourite things- boundary objects, and gave the example of animals. We did it slightly differently (because it’s not as in-depth as MDI), and talked about how we are categorising something, rather than who is trying to find it, as we do in MDI.
During the tutorial we did more categorisation (in between the multiple fire alarms that is!). With this though, we did something a little bit different. Instead of something abstract or on the screen, we were given magic the gathering cards, and then told to categorise them. Because of my experience with MDI I already knew how to do this pretty easily, so my group did it very quickly. It was much easier than the categorising that we had to do for MDI, so I was very happy with the final categorisation.
In Managing Digital Information we had a guest lecturer, Sharon Wise, who was discussing her thesis, which was about how they categorise ecocultural data from the Murry Darling Basin. There was a lot of refreshing of information that have been given to use in regards to controlled vocabulary, but something that I found very useful was the emphasis Wise put on data visualisation. Data Visualisation allows for users of the information to understand what is given to them. It is essentially how to improve the user experience of data, where the user is someone that wants to use that data. It’s much easier to understand something when it has been visualised for you as opposed to just being given a long list of numbers and words.
In the tutorial we looked more at controlled vocabularies and how they relate to KOS’. We were shown a variety of different KOS systems (Such as Dublin Core or CDWA) which is used to create a standard of how things are categorised. We were given a variety of objects, and then had to categories them based on these systems. It was very interesting to see how different something is categorised based on what system you use, and how much easier it is to understand the data when there is a standard in place.
Overall I am very happy with this week, it finally joined my two subjects together, and really made me feel like what I am doing now makes sense, because they all relate to each other, regardless of what I want to pursue as a career.

I’m Published!

Exciting news everyone! I’ve been talking to some companies online in regards to publishing some of the content that I write. And I’m excited to announce that I will now be contributing to OuttaGum, the online Pop Culture news site. I will be mainly focusing on comic books, which (as you know) I want a career in, which is really great, because this helps get my foot in the door.
I plan on running a monthly book club around comics, which I suggest you all join, because comics are great. And they won’t be all marvel comics either. I’ve been braching out from marvel and reading a whole lot of other things, so you can read about those over on the website.
I will still be posting on here, so don’t fret, but you can read all of my work here: http://www.outtagum.com/author/kirra-jackson/
*Occasionally I will be posting things from OuttaGum here, but that won’t be for a while after it’s published, so definitely go check out my other work!

Weekly Wrap Up Week 3: Defintions

This week predominately focused on definitions, with Web design actually defining information architecture and how it relates to design (and UXD!), and MDI defining the indexing process.

In Web Desgin we talked predominantly about Information Architecture. Specifically what an Information architect does. While we were given quite a few different definitions (as it is such a broad thing), there was one that stood out to me the most, a statement by Jorge Arango from 2010 where he said “Information Architecture is not tied to a particular technology. While it is true that this is a field born from the internet, it is all around us. IA has always been about helping people find and understand things – this is where it adds value to the world”. Information is always around us, but it is Information Architecture that actually helps people use it. IA is usually invisible, unless something isn’t working. And that’s also how Design comes into play. In fact, we discussed how, no matter how well a website is organised, if it doesn’t look good, a person won’t use it. This is where the Psychology of design comes in, which you can see below.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 10.00.53 am

There are many things to consider when actually designing a website, but one of the biggest things I took out of this was that when working as an Information Architect I need to be wary of how design choices can actually affect how the IA works, and that it can negatively affect the users, context or content.

It was a very information heavy lecture, so compared to that the tutorial was rather laid back. We also focused on information architecture, however we used the skills learnt so far to analyse other websites. My group and I (more me than anyone else to be fair) decided to analyse the website comic book resources. I often find myself going to this website for comic book, and pop culture related news, however I know that every time I got there, I’m unhappy with it. I’ve never been able to my put my finger on why I wasn’t happy with it, but now, with the skills that I’ve learnt I am able to. Our final review was that, from an IA point of view, it does have good access to information, however in this case, there is too much information being given and it is overwhelming. The insistence on tags, as well as the fact that all the information is shoved into a small space can make a user feel uncomfortable on the website.

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With managing digital information there was a lot of information given to us this week. We mentioned things relating to the upcoming assignment, such as things like boundary objects (that i mentioned last week), and we also focused heavily on the actual indexing process (which was adapted from Mai, 1999). There were three main parts being:

  1. Document Analysis Process
  2. Subject Description
  3. Subject Analysis

With The document analysis process being about what the subjects are, the subject description being about formulating a phrase that allows it to be indexed, and the subject analysis being about translating the subject description into indexing language. I have to admit, this does confuse me a little bit, however I’m sure that I will get it sooner or later, and if not, I’ll ask my tutor about it.

In the tutorial we once again practiced categorising documents, however this time we had to categories their about-ness. While this is still also confusing to me – what exactly is about-ness?, I found that I was very good at it, finding the key works or phrases in a text, as well as the two or 3 overall ideas, based on who is looking for it. We were given an article about the increase of lead in the water supply in Ontario, Canada. The first time we had to categories it for a scientific database, and the second time we had to categorise it for a medical one. It was surprising for me to see the difference in how I would categories it, where with some categories I would completely change, while others I would just add a word, for example for the scientific database I would use the phrase “Lead-Levels” and for the medical one i would use the phrase “Blood Lead-Levels”

I was also lucky enough to go to a UTS Communications career event, which you can read about here

You get paid to do whaaat?!

This week UTS careers hosted an event called “You get paid to do whaaat?!”, a networking event that introduced Communications Students to professionals in a variety of fields that all have a background in Communications.

This personally for me was an amazing idea because, while I know where I want to be in the future, and what kind of work I want to do, I don’t actually know how to get there. I also have most of my experience in social media, and while I do enjoy it, it’s not something I can see myself doing long term.

Like I said above, there was a variety of people within the communications degree, with vastly different experiences getting to where they were currently. There were people working in journalism, some working in creative and Web design, and other working in production.

There were two main parts of the night – ‘speed networking’ as they called it, where each guest (there was about 7 different people, all with different roles and backgrounds), and they each had 7 minutes (to the second ) to answer our groups questions, and tell us a bit about their experiences.  While this was good for me, as I had different questions for each of them, I did find that there were only about two or three other people asking questions. And while I didn’t get to ask all of the questions I had, I did feel a bit awkward being one of the few people asking questions – but hey, that’s how you get yourself to be know, right?

And even though I wasn’t able to ask all the questions I wanted to, there was time afterwards in the ‘general networking’ part of the night. This was when we were free to go around and talk with the speakers of the night and other comms students (which is always important for networking). I felt that the way this was set out was done very nicely, as I had questions that I wouldn’t have thought to ask if it were for the previous part of the night.

There were many valuable things I gained from this evening, from the fact that specialising in certain industries is a great thing, especially if one gains transferable skills, to what people are actually looking for in a portfolio, but the most valuable thing I learnt was how to effectively network in the communications industry.

Previous to this I thought that to network, what you needed to do most of all is get your name out there, so that people know you’re available, however I learnt tonight that there is so much more to networking. One of the speakers told us that when you network, you need to go in there with a particular goal. And it should be specific, not just to have a brief chat and give a business card, but something specific, like learn what skills people are looking for at that time. Another great piece of advice – something that I do struggle with, I have to admit, is that it is really important to make sure that people don’t just know your work, but also know your name, and even you as a person. It’s all good for a recruiter to hear that you do amazing things, but if they have a person already that does that, even if they’re not known to be as amazing as you, that person will still be more likely to be hired than you, because they know them. It’s all about getting your foot, then your face in the door.

The only problem that I had with the night was that I forgot to get contact details from the speakers. While none of them worked in areas that I personally have an interest in, I do know that it’s still a good idea to get in contact with them, as everyone pretty much knows everyone in the communications industry in Sydney, and they also are great banks of knowledge, they actually have gone to places that I might want to go, or have experienced a career path that I might take in getting to where I want to be.

Regardless of this, it was a really great night, and I’m very grateful that my uni offers things like this, and I’m so glad that I was able to attend.

Image from the UTS careers service 

Weekly Wrap Up: Week 2 – The Importance of Usability

MDI 
This week we focused on different classification systems. Last week we talked about the Dewy Decimal System, but there are so many more systems including Ranganathan (1933) who suggested one of the most simplified system, that can be extended to everything. He suggests that there are 5 main facets – Personality (who), Matter (what), Energy (why), Space (where), time (when). In relation to this, the importance of relationships in categorisations was mentioned, using the genius-speicies classification system as an example, where each category below the other acts as a subset for the next. We also had a brief look at boundary object, which are ‘documents’ that are categorised based on who is categorising them. The best way that I was able to understand this is by connecting it to my everyday life, so I had a think about what I categorise, and how I do it. And immediately I thought about tumblr. Tumblr has a massive tagging aspect to it, which I use on my blog to keep track of everything and could definitely be considered a way to categories posts. With the posts that I reblog I categorise them all with things to do with the 5 facets proposed by Ranganathan. Each of them is a subset for the other.
For example this post:
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A post that is about Jemma Simmons, a character from Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, the tags would look like this:
  •  Marvel
    •  MCU
      • Marvel TV
        • Agents of SHIELD
          • Jemma Simmons
Looking at this, however I know that it could look a lot different, depending on someone else’s category system. They could tag it by the type of post (gif, text etc) , the media it is from (movie, tv etc.), and many other things like that. It’s definitely easier for me to relate what I am learning in this way, so I will probably continue to do that.
 During the tutorial we expanded from what we had talked about in the lecture, but focused more on the types of categories, particularly the difference between of-ness and about-ness. Basically, of-ness is what you can find without reading into the text, whereas about-ness is more about what we get from a ‘contextual analysis’, so its purpose, it’s functionality, a description of the document, as opposed to something like the dimensions or colour – something that can be figured out by just looking at it.
In the end I feel like this week will be very important in regards to my assignments as well as in relation to my Designing for the Web subject, in relation to how I sort my pages.
Web Design
Talking about Designing for the Web, today we did two seperate things in the lecture and the tutorial. This weeks lecture was all about the user. What they wanted, how they could find it, what makes a good experience for them. This I think was one of the most important lessons, as the best website is a website that users like. Websites that consider this are websites that create customer loyalty, customer trust, and encourage customers to buy products.
During the tutorial, however, we were introduced to a program called dreamweaver. This is a program for coding that allows you to view what you are making while you are coding. I’ve never actually used a program before for my coding, it’s all either been on codecacademy or just in a text file. I’m suprised that I haven’t used a program before because they are really amazing, and it makes life so much easier. I’m use to typing out every single thing in my code, but this program completely streamlines the process, you only need to type </ to end a command, and to start one, you can pretty much type the first letter, click what you want and it’s almost all written out for you.
We were doing things that were relatively easy (considering I know and have used HTML before), however I think this week was just getting use to using the program, which I think really is necessary, because now I feel confident using it to create a website.
Fortunantely we only set up for css by adding class and id, but that means we are going to be doing css next week, which I am not much of a fan of. I’ll have to brush up on it over the weekend.