Friday, June 13, 2008

Famous Last Words...

What a journey! Indeed I have learnt much and absorbed much from this course. Before coming to this course, there is indeed much that I didn't realise and understand about the world of issues in publishing and design. However, thanks to the assistance of Miss Jenny and my ever helpful classmates, my knowledge and understanding of this topic when up a few notches.

Though I would readily admit that I encountered various difficulties and frustrations throughout this court, at the end of the day, it is indeed very satisfying for one to see the fruits of his labour.

One writer that has taught me much is Jakob Nielsen. He taught me three main guidelines I don't think I'll be forgetting anytime soon.
  • Be succinct. Write no more than 50 per cent of what you would write in a printed text.
  • Write for scannability. Don't give the users a hard time browsing through the texts.
  • Use hypertext/hyperlink to split up long information into multiple pages.

These three guidelines is what I based this weblog on and given I have learnt to approach the way an online page is designed and layed out.

This further consolidates my belief that blogs, be it political, infotainment or academic all plays its role in giving me a fresh outlook not just in the various genres presented but on life as a whole. It made me realised the whole importance of technology that is subtly playing in our lives. Whether we realise it or not, the Internet in specific is shaping the way we approach our daily living giving all the fresh ideas that is being generated day by day.

At the end of the day, let's embraced the future together.


Reference List:

1) Nielsen, J 1997, Be Succinct! (Writing for the Web), Viewed on 2 May 2008 at

Malaysia: Land Of The Brave?

(Picture sourced from:

Raja Petra Kamarudin? Hero or villain?

We all know of Malaysia's famous (or infamous for some) political blogger who was recently charged on the sedition act for apparently posting a 'seditious' article in his website deemed 'Let's Send The Altantuya Murderers To Hell' where he implicated Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah in the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu that send shock waves throughout Malaysia one year ago. Berating the Prime Minister and the local government for the lack of urgency and commitment in solving the case, Raja Petra ends on a high where he urges Malaysians to push this issue and not allow the murderers who walk in the corridors of power instead sending them to hell where they deserve to be.

Spending 3 days in prison apparently did little to quenched his fighting spirit where Raja Petra is deemed by many to be a true political hero. In a country where freedom of speech is an understatement, the recent elections have undermined the popularity of political blogs where Malaysians would turn to for news that is not filtered by the government. In a recent press conference covered by The Star newspaper, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that the government will take on bloggers in cyberspace and respond to wild and baseless allegations raised in blogs. But is this a case of too little too late?

National hero? Raja Petra before posting bail.
(Picture sourced from:

After the infamous happenings of last year where Khairy Jamaluddin, deputy chief of the youth arm of UMNO, famously said at a conference on July 28 that, "there are no laws in the cyberworld except for the law of the jungle. As such, action must be taken so that the monkeys behave." It is of little surprise to learnt of the bombardment that he received from the online community.

Thanks to the function of multimodality (Walsh 2006), sites like Malaysia Today are able to convey the intended message across effectively and efficiently. One such example is provided by Schriver (1997) where multimodal modes like hyperlinks allow web-users to skim from webpage to webpage as well as linking each other as genre permits it. In this case being political blogs.

Personally, I am one who is totally for press freedom in cyberspace. True, we will have a few rotten apples in the basket that will be providing baseless defamation but dare we lose it all in the name of 'National Security'? The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists' executive director Joel Simon put the situation in perspective when he said in a press release, "Any new laws tailored to censor the Internet would represent a significant step backward for press freedom in Malaysia."

We, after all, are citizens of a country that is in a dire need for a sense of urgency and advocacy for the freedom of speech.

Reference List:

1) Bloggers Rally Around Raja Petra, AsiaMedia, Viewed on 11 June 2008 at

2) Government To Engage Bloggers In Cyberspace, TheStar, Viewed on 11 June 2008 at

3) Let’s Send The Altantuya Murderers To Hell, Malaysia Today, Viewed on 11 June 2008 at

4) Raja Petra Released On Bail (Updated), TheStar, Viewed on 11 June 2008 at

5) Schriver, KA 1997, 'Dynamics in Document Design: Creating Text For Readers', Wiley Computer Publisher, New York

6) Walsh, M 2006, 'Textual Shifts: Examining The Reading Process With Print, Visual and Multimodal Text', Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, vol. 29, no. 1, p. 24-37

Copyright Infringement Or Artistic License?

File swapping? File sharing? Peer to Peer (P2P)?

Regardless of the term you use, all points in the direction of a new found generation of information and file sharing community that is pleasing to those who are benefiting from it and which is plaguing the minds of those in the music and film industry. Neale and Turner (2001) states that as we progress through society, and with the changes in technology, the rise of situations like these is inevitable. The copyright infringement issue is thrusted into the limelight starting with Napster being sued by The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in regard to operating website that they alleged is providing a online haven for music privacy on the Internet.

Napster. Paved the way for Ares?
(Picture sourced from:

With BitComet, Kazaa, Ares providing free downloading services, one can't help but to sit up and take notice of the current and potential influence it plays in the entertainment industry and the online world as a whole.

Limewire, another famous P2P program, gave a large amount of credit to the development of a number of advanced P2P file sharing applications which increased dramatically the reach and scope of peer networks.

BitComet. A popular P2P torrent program.
(Picture sourced from:

Ares. Easy interface makes it a hit for music junkies.

An online publication in Sweden called 'The Local' writes in one of their reports that young voters aged between 18-20 are in favour of file downloading and insists that it is OK to download illegally from the Internet. According to a survey that the publisher conducted, over 75 per cent of those asked said that it was OK to download music illegally from the Internet. The article goes on to berate the lowering of morality among the youth culture. Ella Bohlin, Christian Democrat Youth Party chairman says," It is alarming that so many young people think everything should be free". This is hardly surprising considering Schriver (1997) who says that people, in this case being the teenagers, decides on their stand (decoding a message) in the view of their general knowledge, personal experience, culture and social awareness.

With the US and Australia both having court sessions to make song shifting among devices illegal will mean that downloading music albeit legally online may just soon be banned.

With the services available, one has no choice but to sit up and take notice. Among peers, it is definite that there are friends of mine who spend their time downloading online - legally or not is another issue. What attracts them here is basically what attracts others to do the same: free, good quality and easy to get a hold on to.

So, the issue here lies within the adapting of your morality based on what you understand and accept of the rules of the virtual world.

What do YOU think?

Reference List:

1) Neale S & Turner G 2001, 'Chapter 1, Introduction: What is Genre?', The Television Genre Book, British Film Institute, London, p. 1-7

2) Proposed Copyright Law Changes 'Not Very Clear', ABC News, Viewed on 11 June 2008 at

3) Recording Industry Sues Napster For Copyright Infringement, Internet News, Viewed on 11 June 2008 at

4) Schriver, KA 1997, 'Dynamics in Document Design: Creating Text For Readers', Wiley Computer Publisher, New York

5) Understanding Peer-to-Peer Networking And File-Sharing, Lime Wire, Viewed on 11 June 2008 at

6) US Court To Hear Appeal On Music-Swapping, Copyright, ABC News, Viewed on 10 June 2008 at

7) Young Voters Back File Sharing, TheLocal, Viewed on 11 June 2008 at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Wikipedia Battle Begins!

(Picture sourced from:
(Picture sourced from:

Encyclopedia Britannica is facing a stiff test of credibility of information in the battle against the new fangled site Wikipedia. Founded on the basis of 'By the community for the community', Wikipedia is leading the way for those who are looking for a quick fix of information and are looking for an alternative other than the usual Encyclopedia Britannica. What attracts users is the fact that unlike the Encyclopedia, actually allows Internet users to change what they want, when they want it. Good or bad? You decide.

In an article published by Cnet, it reports of a study conducted by online journal Nature where they chose articles from both sites in a wide range of topics and sent them to what it called "relevant" field experts for peer review. The experts then compared the competing articles but were not told which article came from which site. Nature got back 42 usable reviews from its field of experts. All in all, in terms of of factual errors, omissions or misleading statements, Wikipedia had 162 such problems, while Britannica had 123. Not a bad figure for a user-defined blog.

According to a The Age article, Wikipedia is the 37th most-visited website. It has added 3.7 million articles written by tens of thousands of volunteers since it was founded in 2001. It is a concept that seems to be widely accepted by the online community where being able to change information at the touch of a keyboard (by anyone nonetheless) is an enticing prospect considering the vast clarification needed for all the information posted. And in terms of vandalism, that aspect doesn't seem to be a problem. For example, in a report written by Robert Johnson for The New York Times, he speaks of an instance where renown Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleyev wikipage was posted with this idiotic message: "IM COOL: IM DOING A REPORT ON DMITRI MENDELEEV AND YEA IM COOL AND HES COOL." However, three days later the graffiti was removed by other civil minded users.

And that's where lies Wikipedia's cutting edge tool: Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, in an interview with USA Today says that Wikipedia's team of dedicated volunteers will provide their knowledge and expertise on the field that they're in command of.

I feel that in terms of garnering credibility and recognition among scholars in terms of reliability, Wikipedia still has a long way to be on level ground with luminaries like The Encyclopedia Britannica which for decades has been the focal point for academic referencing. This is reflected in Universities and Colleges where the usage of Wikipedia as a citable academic source is prohibited. As Lannon (2006) puts it, information accuracy and credibility is what makes a useful website.

And with Encyclopedia Britannica upgrading itself by offering expert contributors and readers to supplement the contents, seems like a whole new level of battleground is just teeming up.

We wait with bated breath.

Reference List:

1) Cnet News, Viewed on 10 June 2008 at

2) Britannica Follows In Wikipedia’s Footsteps (Sort Of…), Pandia, Viewed on 10 June 2008 at

3) Online Encyclopedias Put To The Test, The Age, Viewed on 10 June 2008 at

4) Lannon, J 2006, 'Technical Communication', 10th Edition, Pearson Education, USA

5) Nature: Wikipedia Is Accurate, USA Today, Viewed on 10 June 2008 at

6) The Nitpicking Of The Masses Vs. The Authority Of The Experts, New York Times, Viewed on 11 June 2008 at

Facebook For The Masses!

22 year old Mark with his ingenious site
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Facebook. A name or rather brand synonymous with the uprise in social networking sites working its way into the lives of students worldwide. Starting off with Friendster, famous particularly in the Asian region, Facebook, founded by Mark Zuckerberg soon worked its way up the pecking order in terms of usability, user-friendliness, and applicability.

This article by Nancy Hass of the New York Times underlines the allure Facebook has on today’s generation, particularly those in Colleges and University. It tells of how Kyle Stoneman, a senior at George Washington University and his online buddies devised a ‘mock’ beer party in a retaliation for an earlier apprehension. How Stoneman managed to persuade 40 students to even turn up is due largely to the vast influence and pace information is shared across the online terrain. Walsh (2006) explains it as the interpretation of new meanings and responses by online users whether through words or images. Hass ends the article with a subtle warning on the tenuous harm it may pose on students who without intent may just invite the unwanted attention of cyberstalking.

According to Philips, Facebook has since reach 30 million registered users. Other than generating a wealth of income for the team, Facebook find themselves too embroiled in a controversy that has cast a poor light on its ability to administrate and gauge the extend of the power of themselves. The recent London Underground Protest is a prime example of the after effects where Alexandre Graham, a 26 year old banker organised a seemingly ‘small’ protest before London Mayor Boris Johnson's ban on alcohol on public transport came into force. What Mr.Graham didn’t anticipate is the degenating of the crowd that stayed on till late partying, fighting, getting sick and generally creating havoc that would cause the tax payers dearly in cleaning up costs.

Alexandre Graham and his infamous binge drinking
(Picture Sourced from

I myself have a Facebook account and I personally feel that it’s a great way for friends, university ones especially, to keep up with each other. To be honest, it can get addictive. This goes in hand with what Schriver (1997) says where text and images complement each other so as to catch teh audience's attention and understanding. I have friends who are able to keep in touch with their overseas friends just with a simple click of the mouse. And with the ability to add in applications of your choice for example scrabble, bookshelf, music shelf, Facebook is taking interactivity to a whole new level of experience.

It is simply the case where it is a medium for the users to hold the right to rebel with a cause and to create niche for them in this self contained world. The recent News feed issue where a long line of protests lined up over the issue of invasion of privacy. Groups within Facebook like “Students Against Facebook News Feed (Official Petition to Facebook)” are just one way students are using Facebook, against Facebook. Ironic isn’t it?

With Facebook opening up its doors to anyone who owns an email, there have been debates regarding the distinction and original vision of Facebook to reach out to University students. Zuckerberg pointed out that this site is founded on the goal that undergraduates are able to use Facebook even in the working world. Quite an achievement for a site that was purchased for $200,000

Reference List:

1) Facebook: Opening The Doors Wider, Business Week, Viewed on 11 June 2008 at

2) Facebook Tube Party That Ended In Drunken Riot Was Organised By City Banker, Viewed on 10 June 2008 at

3) Inside The Backlash Against Facebook, Time Online, Viewed on 10 June 2008 at,8599,1532225,00.html

4) In You Facebook.Com, New York Times, Viewed on 10 June 2008 at

5) Schriver, KA 1997, 'Dynamics in Document Design: Creating Text For Readers', Wiley Computer Publisher, New York

6) The Guardian, Viewed on 11 june 2008 at

7) Walsh, M 2006, 'Textual Shifts: Examining The Reading Process With Print, Visual and Multimodal Text', Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, vol. 29, no. 1, p. 24-37

Saturday, May 3, 2008

New Forms Of Media Publishing

YouTube is definitely leading the way towards a borderless community. Besides being
an arena for video sharing, more and more organizations, performing artists are using
YouTube as a platform to promote their cause. This tactic is particularly effective considering
that nearly 100 million videos are being watched on any given weekend.

The now famous Free Hugs campaign used YouTube as an effective platform to
promote its cause to the public. Other examples include pop superstar Michael Jackson’s
own YouTube channel and World Vision UK, one of the world's leading relief and
development agencies which uses YouTube to promote their campaign.

A YouTube video promoting the 'Free Hugs' Campaign.

World famous celebrity chef Jamie Oliver uses MoBlog technology to post pictures
on his official website. Not only is it convenient for someone like Jamie who is always
on the go, fans of him are able to keep up to date with the latest activities that
he is involved in. As the saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words.

It is also interesting to note that world renown magazine TIME magazine has fully utilized technology by offering its own online polls, blogs and even podcasts
to serve the online community.

TIME online.

Reference List:

1) YouTube Serves Up 100 Million Videos A Day Online, Reuters, viewed on 2 May 2008

Friday, May 2, 2008

Designing For Online Vs Print

Before I begin a comprehensive study of the differences between designing for online and
designing for print, let me first provide two layouts that i will be using as a comparative for
my analysis.

Example of an online web page.

Example of a printed sheet. Taken from TheStar Newspaper.

According to the Eyetracking Study that was conducted by Jakob Nielsen, he reports
that users will often read web pages according to the F shaped. Hence the design for the web page shown above is shown in a F pattern way. Therefore, new
additions are always placed on the right where else things that are 'given' for example
the tool bar is placed on the left.

On the other hand, he stats that readers of print articles tend to read an article in the
Z shaped pattern. Kress and van Leeuwen (1998) stats that print media tends to
focus more on the text (multimodality) rather than the use of images and vibrant colours.

In terms of the length of words, it is a given fact that the printed media contains words that are longer in length compared to online 
media where Jakob Nielsen says in his How Users Read On The Web Study that
people rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page. It is then
safe to say that users prefer short and concise texts as they give a web page a glance

Hypertext or hyperlink is a definite added plus for online media as users are able
to easily connect themselves with other web sites and blogs through the link(s) provided.

In his Writing For The Web article, Jakob Nielsen provides us with three main
guidelines for writing for the Web. 
  • Be succinct. Write no more than 50 per cent of what you would write in a printed text.
  • Write for scannability. Don't give the users a hard time browsing through the texts.
  • Use hypertext/hyperlink to split up long information into multiple pages.
Looking back at the critical analysis I have done, it seems that online media seems to win it
hands down. With user friendly set ups and at such a low cost, it is foreseeable that the online media would 
soon overtake the traditional method of print media.

How soon, remains to be seen.

Reference List:

1.) Kress, G & van Leeuwen, T 1998, Front pages: (the critical) analysis of newspaper layout,      Approaches to media discourse, Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 186-219. 

2) Nielsen, J 2006, F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content, Viewed on 2 May 2008

3) Nielsen, J 1997, Be Succinct! (Writing for the Web), Viewed on 2 May 2008

4) Nielsen, J 1997, How Users Read On The Web, Viewed on 27 April 2008