print film online academia
the keshvani press employment
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 other.

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 them.


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!"

NYFA Current: 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.

Sources/resources:
- Leonardo Electronic Almanac
- Leonardo
- fineArt forum
- Visual Thesaurus 2.0

     

 

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