Lunacy – evaluation

With the website up and running, which can be accessed here, I want to reflect on the experience of a group project, what worked, what didn’t and why.

I believe that I started the project with the idea that each person had certain things they were good at, and whatever you weren’t good at, you didnt touch on.

This became false very quickly.

Design can only go so far without testing it with html/php, everything had to look good on the web, not just in Photoshop. I felt like I was a little ignorant to the difficulty and monotonous labouring of creating a website, especially with the implementation of a database.

MySQL was probably the most challenging thing for me as the language is very different from normal php, it took a lot of time to get used to the logic of php and to mix in sql made it fairly overwhelming and confusing.

Luckily, the point of a group project is to help one another and I believe the general teamwork (besides for the 2 people that did not show up at all) was very good. We would look over each others codes, images, bios and all had an understanding of the groups strengths and weaknesses. Communication both online and in real life was constant, and we had a working(ish) prototype much earlier than some of the groups.

Having not worked on a project with a focused group before, and generally being a creative and idea-full person, perhaps I somewhat forced my ideas down everyones throats, and we settled on one of the first ideas everyone agreed on. If we were to do this over, I would have made a much greater effort to brainstorm lots of ideas, combining, removing and eventually choosing one that makes slightly more sense. Lunacy itself has the biggest issue of privacy, we have no way of anonymising the stories people tell, and no kind of consent or warning about the possible content of the site containing names, dates and other private information.

Overall the project was a success in terms of working together and building a working site, but I have learned a lot more through what didn’t work and fixing it, rather than everything working perfectly all the time.

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Net Neutrality

Big business has a way of worming its way into everything in our lives, we pay for the privilege of sky sports or spotify premium, but net neutrality has been something the corporate world has been trying to break for decades.

Without Net Neutrality, big business (phone companies, broadband providers) could carve the Internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors’ content or block political opinions it disagreed with. they could charge extra fees to the 1% companies who basically own the world already, meaning everyone else would be using a slower tier of internet. This would destroy the web we know and love (and hate).

The very idea of the world wide web is that is it world wide, open, free and unbiased. As soon as you put a meter on it, it becomes no different from TV and advertising; pay to win.

One thing that differs in Europe’s battle with net neutrality is that they want to allow “ISPs to install “parental control” filters in the network, forced onto you without consent.”

Only parents can assess the needs of their children, but these filters give no control to parents. They are a “one size-fits-all” solution by ISPs.

“Child rights organisations, such as the UK’s Child Rights Information Network (CRIN), have raised concerns that without a way for parents to make the choice for themselves what kind of online content is appropriate for their children. Youth of all ages will be treated exactly the same way, which could undermine children’s protection, education, and personal development.”

This song from the ‘stop SOPA’ campaign in 2012 perfectly sums up net neutrality.

References:

http://www.savetheinternet.com/net-neutrality-what-you-need-know-now

https://savetheinternet.eu/

Lunacy update

A big issue being a designer first and foremost is the battle between something looking pretty and actually working. Translating ambitious mock ups into working websites comes with much sacrifice, something I learned the hard way.

One of the main visual aspects of the website was to have the inclusion of a moon, either in the logo or as the background.

moonfull

“flashy designer mock up”

lunacypicfail

“messy integration into php”

lunacypiccontain

even when I managed to center it and it seemed to look acceptable;

lunacypicfailcontain

it came with the issue that the image was ‘contained’ in all of the containers, which meant it continuously tiled.

Also the visual cluster of white text and a light grey/white background was not appealing, the clean, solid blue look is much more user friendly, and keeps in line with the angular, ‘metro’ style of todays technology.

lunacyclean

Inspiration for Lunacy

Lunacy is similar to other social media sites such as Twitter, FML and Reddit, where it is easy to see the most popular posts in a specific timescale.

FML, for example:

fmlexample

The voting system is unique as it does not focus on good or bad, but rather if the statement one makes is their own fault or the faults of others, though it can be said that ‘You deserved it’ essentially equates to ‘bad’.

This does make for interesting conversation on each post, and the ability to comment on each post extends the scope and usability of the site massively, as the comments section acts as an ‘other’ opinion field.

This kind of voting/comment system could be useful for Lunacy as it will not limit people who feel negatively about a story can do more than vote it up or down.

Participatory Culture

Participatory culture is the essence of creating an experience in which the users themselves produce the body of content that is viewed on a piece of digital media.

A good example of this is of course Facebook; Users post pieces of media on to their own or their ‘friends’ ‘walls’, which in turn creates a network of posts that mutual friends can see and so on and so forth until there is an exploding database of peoples personal thoughts, opinions and ideas; participatory culture at its very core.

This culture not only takes its form socially, but academically as well. Wikipedia, or any ‘Wiki’ page, is a collection of content on a specific (or general) subject, and can range from the Jurassic to the Quantum. The most collaborative part of a Wiki is that anyone (some may have permission systems to limit spam content) has the ability to add, edit or delete any part of the Wiki, rendering it effectively owner-less.

Obviously there are certain issues that arise such as reliability and continuity, perhaps a certain user is uneducated in both sides of a story, and their input jeopardises the integrity of the article. Also the idea of an open source vat of information free to access is effectively ‘illegal’ Lawrence Lessig writes in his (obviously free) book ‘Free Culture‘ “Web sites that offer plot summaries from forgotten television shows; sites that catalog cartoons from the 1960s; sites that mix images and sound to criticize politicians or businesses; sites that gather newspaper articles on remote topics of science or culture.There is a vast amount of creative work spread across the Internet. But as the law is currently crafted, this work is presumptively illegal” (long quote sorry but gets point across).

Participatory culture in one form or another will be heavily involved in our group project, and a good starting point is looking at well rounded examples and how we can take an interesting approach to it.