04/10/2005

Tinderbox on a white charger

I've been working on a massive client site redesign since late summer and the site has of necessity been continually updated in its old form during the time I've been fussing with the new one (not yet online, but soon, soon, we hope).

Said client has been emailing me notes about her changes as she goes along, and where practical I've updated my local copies and where it didn't make sense to do that I've put the email in a to-do-later folder.

Now I'm ready to deal with those to-do-laters and found that Tinderbox could help me retain some measure of sanity in the process.

Here's how:

1) I dragged all the client's emails into a new tinderbox file. At first I thought I had to highlight and drag just the text, but it turns out that you can drag an email from the mailbox list and you get the email's subject as the title of the note along with the full contents. Sweet.

2) Even a cursory glance at these notes tells me that the client has made multiple changes to some of the same pages. I don't want to do these piecemeal, rather I want to gather all the notes that reference a specific page together and make all the changes at once--or even recapture the entire page and reconvert it to the new site template, if that seems the best course. What I need is an agent. Actually, lots of agent. Agents told to search for notes with text or names containing "/wild/tinderbox/specificnamegoeshere.htm".

This is working beautifully--I haven't been doing this for very long and I already can tell which pages have amassed the most changes. I have a *smart* master checklist that didn't take very long to create.

This is not advanced Tinderboxing by any means, and that's the point of blogging this. I didn't set out to devise a fancy Tbox thingy. I didn't have a plan or a design. I just had a need, thought Tinderbox might be useful, and plunged in. It was, as I expected, rather easy to set up and is working better than the clunky (and now out-of-date) master checklist I had started to amass in TextEdit a few weeks back.

At some point, I'll want an agent to tell me if I've connected with all the change emails in the file. An agent to look for notes that have been gathered by agents, or those that haven't. I'm not sure how I'll do this; I don't know what to tell the agent to look for, exactly. But I suspect I'll figure it out. Something like stamping all the emails with a color and having the agents change the color when they gather them. Then I could search for notes whose color had kept the default. Something like that....

Thanks, Mark.

April 10, 2005 in Tinderbox, methods | Permalink | Comments (0)

03/23/2005

Art Attack

I have to admire this fellow Banksy. Vandalism, shmandalism. He recently donned a false beard and trenchcoat and boldly installed his own works in four major New York museums. Click through here to see the images. I can't decide if the discount soup can or the insect (scientific name "withus oragainstus") is my favorite.

March 23, 2005 in methods | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

11/09/2004

Homages to Hand-Pressed Type

I found this among an unsorted pile of saved bookmarks:

Loss of roots in design

That commentary, along with this short movie, points to the tactile nature of physically setting type and what that feels like and teaches the designer.

Good stuff.

November 9, 2004 in methods, web design | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

01/14/2004

On Tinderbox

Found this by following a link from the Tinderbox Wiki:

It was only when I saw Tinderbox in the context of the Web that I got it. Notes were like web pages or parts of web pages. Agents are like Google. Links went outside my pages (weblinks) or between my pages. Tinderbox was a self contained website that I could translate into HTML via templates. Word presents itself as a typewriter metaphor. Excel is a spreadsheet. We have appointment book and address book metaphors. The internet has been around long enough that a program can use it as a metaphor.

From James Vornov.

January 14, 2004 in methods | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

08/19/2003

TypePad and MT for learning sites

I don't know if the estimable Liz Lawley has noticed my IP tracks all over her MT design for a class, but I've been trying to learn from a master how to go about setting up the different pages and options in a course site.

Anybody else out there using MT or TP for courseware? Suggestions and insights welcome.

August 19, 2003 in methods | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

06/07/2003

At home on the web

I've found, with Wild Keys, that I enjoy composing directly in html in my site interface (in Dreamweaver?) — how do I mean to put this? I enjoy composing within a format that seems "real." When I was a little girl, I tried to make my books-in-manuscript as real as possible, with covers, front matter, initial caps, and other flourishes. I suspect wanting to compose directly within my web pages is more of the same impulse.

This runs counter to a lot of writing advice, which basically states, "find the plainest text editor you can find and damn the appearance of the words." This is, often, very good advice, right up there with "shitty first drafts."

Plain text is at the heart of the reforms underway throughout the web, for separating content from style, which I happen to agree with. However, style can and does influence content, which is why contemporary writers often switch fonts when proofing or editing their drafts. Changing the style allows a new window on the work, permits seeing things — typos, repetitions, themes, nuance — that have become obscured by the commonplace of the original format. I think.

[edited, 06/07/03]

June 7, 2003 in methods | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

05/10/2003

What to write when you have a headache

Headaches are an intractable malady when it comes to writing. A stubbed toe can be ignored, but the writer lives in her head. When it's full of migraine there's not much room for anything else.

One can attempt whimsy: while I considered and rejected a weak joke about how there might not be much in this writer's head at the best of times, I also began considering a simile of a mind as a furnished set of rooms... This at least was mildly interesting; enough so that I wrote it down.

I suspect on all days this mind is furnished rather eclectically, but today in particular it probably resembles a certain sort of English bed-and-breakfast hotel. A riot of mismatched carpets and Laura Ashley-inspired puffy curtains and Staffordshire china with bucolic scenes and a little metered heater that doles out puffs of heat for 20p for about a minute and a half.

The migraine itself would be some sort of hotel pet that is entirely fictional and out of place, like a Push-me-Pull-you.

May 10, 2003 in blockbusters, methods | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

04/21/2003

Show/Hide Layers

Jill's post about Hiding behind a blog (itself a very poignant expose of a personal sorrow) has had enormous ripples. It's joined up with so many conversations, too many to reference here, but I've been interested in the ones about why people keep online notebooks, and what sort of assumptions we make (regarding fiction versus fact) when we read these. Shelley Powers over at Burningbird has a long post on this.

Jill's regular readers seem glad she told them; it gave them a chance to say they're sorry she's hurting. As for whether posting sideways about personal matters is a lie of omission, that's just plain silly. It's incredibly naive to assume that any of us refrain from lying, if not saying everything we think (being tactful?) is the criteria for truth. There shouldn't be a rule that you have to spill everything — nor one that says you can't interleave personal and professional voices. Jill's trying out a lot of new voices, and I like to think her readers have encouraged this lyrical one along with many others.

Getting back to Shelley — the Burningbird attracted my attention because one of her readers brings up a passage in Annie Dillard's A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Like Shelley's reader, I use Annie Dillard's words often in my teaching about strong writing. I've always loved the opening of Pilgrim:

I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who would jump through the open window by my bed in the middle of the night and land on my chest.... And some mornings I'd wake in daylight to find my body covered with paw prints in blood; I looked as though I'd been painted with roses.

I looked as though I'd been painted with roses. There's an image. I believe it. However, learning that Dillard "made up" this part about the cat doesn't faze me. Although it's enriched with a good deal of naturalistic data, Pilgrim isn't "about" the natural world — it's about what it felt like to spend time alone in the natural world.

Fair warning: I'm here to write what it feels like. Often, this is what it feels like to me, but sometimes it's richer when I get to enter imaginatively into another life or experience.

April 21, 2003 in Weblogs, methods | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack