|New York Foundation
for the Arts Interactive
16 April 2003
|LEONARDO ELECTRONIC ALMANAC (LEA)
- a publication of LEONARDO is jointly produced by Leonardo,
the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (ISAST)
and published under the auspices of MIT Press.
Nisar Keshvani is Editor-in-Chief.
LEA features original content as well as selections
from Leonardo and from books in the Leonardo Book Series.
For instance, the January 2003 issue featured an editorial by Leonardo
Music Journal Editor Nicholas Collins as well as selected items
from LEONARDO MUSIC JOURNAL, Vol. 12. which was dedicated to the
subject of "pleasure." Articles include:
- Ben Neill: "Pleasure Beats Rhythm and the Aesthetics of
Current Electronic Music"
- Bob Ostertag: "Human Bodies, Computer Music"
- Arthur Elsenaar and Remko Scha: "Electric Body Manipulation
as Performance Art A Historical Perspective"
- David Byrne: "Machines of Joy I Have Seen the Future and
It Is Squiggly"
Now the challenge with the web is trickier; because it doesn't present
the usual restrictions, there is a tendency for creators to go overboard.
In fact, its even more of a challenge ensuring quality -- because
you can get away from having to make these hard-hitting decisions.
This issue of LEA also included "In Memory Rich Gold, 1950-2003";
reviews of One Place After Another Site-Specific Art and Locational
Identity by Miwon Kwon (reviewed by Claire Barliant); and Music
and Technology in the Twentieth Century, edited by Hans-Joachim
Braun (reviewed by Chris Cobb) among others.
Among future issues of LEA will be Artists in Times of War with
Shirley Shor, in coordination with Michele Emmer, who has been working
in this area with Leonardo since 1999 and Digital Art Histories
with Paul Brown and Catherine Mason.
LEA Editor-in-Chief Nisar Keshvani recently answered some questions
from NYFA Current about Electronic Publishing:
NYFA Current: How do you see electronic publishing
in relationship to print publishing -- ie does it supplement print
publishing, is it something different, what are its strengths?
Nisar Keshvani: "Well, there are various
perspectives to this. I see print and online as complimenting each
However, there are limits to print (often due to economics) -- limited
word space, limited images, limited pages. Sometimes that may be
a good thing -- because it forces the creator of this information,
to ensure only what is important and necessary gets published.
Now with the Web, you don't have these traditional limits; in fact,
it creates a whole new orbit, its getting easier to incorporate
audio, video, images, and it just changes the dynamic of things
tremendously. Now the challenge with the web is trickier; because
it doesn't present the usual restrictions, there is a tendency for
creators to go overboard. In fact, its even more of a challenge
ensuring quality -- because you can get away from having to make
these hard-hitting decisions. Electronic publishers are currently
having to 'formulate' rules, as linear logic doesn't apply online;
people don't read from page 1 - 100, and the logical flow is different
(sometimes there is no logic/pattern). So information architecture
has become crucial, and needs serious thought.
In a sense, there are generations of individuals who feel more comfortable
with reading on paper, and this is to do with their upbringing,
culture, and just the traditional way of doing things. Quite a number
of people, still print articles, essays, information off the web,
and then read them. This dynamic is changing with the current young
generation; they have literally been using computers since they
were three (sometimes before they can read), and are so accustomed
to technology, SMS, WAP, etc. Its going to be harder to entice,
and keep this generation coming back to traditional and new media
publishing. You have to continually excite them.
In a sense, there are generations of individuals who feel more comfortable
with reading on paper, and this is to do with their upbringing, culture,
and just the traditional way of doing things. Quite a number of people,
still print articles, essays, information off the web, and then read
|Having said this, I was recently reading
a review of Visual Thesaurus 2.0 [plumbdesign] by Erica Thompson
in fAf. [fineArt forum] That's an exciting example of how information
presentation is evolving. It has just made the whole process of looking
up a word, so dynamic, different, and a whole new experience. Plenty
of other individuals/companies, are testing and pushing these boundaries
on a daily basis; now the challenge is how do we keep ourselves informed
(especially developments that interest you personally ) -- something
that was so much simpler before!"
Do you find the audience is different for the web version than it
is for the email version. What are the strengths and weaknesses
of each version?
Keshvani: "In some ways, the email version
can be compared to print. It's "linear"; you read from
top - down, left to right. It's easy; it's quick; it's delivered
to your mailbox. You skim through what you want, very quickly you
know what is available; the discovery, or orientation process is
very simple (For some, it can be printed off easily -- in readable
A4 sheets without a need for reformatting).
With web versions, its a bit different, you can go
beyond text, and images, cross-linking, new pop up windows, etc.
The user plays around a bit more, there is no telling, what catches
their eye, and each individual will have a different way of reading,
or schematic to the process.
Both meet their purpose, send the message across, and eventually
(we hope!) enthuse the audience to access the web version. Of course,
with the pace technology develops, email versions have become sophisticated,
and the lines of distinction are becoming blurred.
All the issues discussed above can
be addressed, if not already by new versions of browsers and software,
but does everyone have access? Now what we often forget, is that
there is a substantial portion of the audience with 'older' browsers,
and use text-only email clients. If you look at trends, the portion
of the audience with access to the latest technology, is disproportionate
to those who don't.
As we become excited with new design capabilities, the challenge
becomes how do we continue meeting the needs of both spectrums (these
are issues LEA/fAf are currently thinking about). Is going forward
actually a step back towards reaching our readership?
It's hard to say for sure, but perhaps the audience for email versions,
are folk who want to be kept in the know, access 'no frills' information,
get in and out quick. You can quite quickly do a Ctrl-F, search
for a keyword, and focus on what you want.
The web audience however, has a bit of an adventurous spirit, they
go in, discover, and are just a tad more patient if it may take
them longer to find what they want, and they don't mind reading
through information, that is of interest which they were not originally
looking for. Once again, the sophistication of searches for a website
is truly amazing these days, with advanced finds etc - so you can
go in focused, or just wait for what shows up?"
Now what we often forget, is that there is a substantial portion of
the audience with 'older' browsers, and use text-only email clients
.... As we become excited with new design capabilities, the challenge
becomes how do we continue meeting the needs of both spectrums. Is
going forward actually a step back towards reaching our readership?
Filmmaker/new media journalist/educator Nisar Keshvani is Editor-in-Chief
of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac and fineArt forum.
His masters research at the Queensland University of Technology
examined the impact of the World Wide Web on news journalism and
the changing work practices of journalists, and he has lectured
in digital media at Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Film &
Media Studies in Singapore. Keshvani's areas of special interest
include new media technologies, media
convergence, web content management and development.