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click opera
February 2010
 
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Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 11:25 am
Websites as slideshows

I recently experienced a catastrophic Safari meltdown; every time I launched the browser it quit, and even deleting lots of library files and re-installing Safari didn't help. So I switched to Firefox. There are some things I don't like as much (poor History implementation, lack of Search Snapback), but there are compensations too. For instance, the add-on that allows you to turn any webpage into a slideshow.

Now, turning a website into a slideshow is a bit like turning a bicycle into a record player; it's perverse, against the grain. People put images onto their websites in a certain context. When you pull them up and turn them into a full-screen sequence of three-second images, you de- and re-contextualize them. The intended narrative gets stripped away, replaced by a new narrative which can be surreal, dreamlike, or psychologically revealing. That's the theory, anyway.

It doesn't always work. News sites like the BBC, The Guardian and Google News have done something to their html to make slideshowing impossible. Stil in Berlin works, Face Hunter doesn't. But those street fashion blogs are predominantly visual already, packaged as sequences of images. So is stripes-crazy Stanley Lieber's LiveJournal.



Some blogs frustrate the desire to escape text by bringing it into their images. Hipster Runoff sprinkles its jpegs with bitmapped lettering: "ELECTROMA = POOP", the images say, or "I deserve a better life / career / job". What emerges here is the extent to which American hipsterism simply recycles American strip malls and office cubicles with a tiny justifying sparkle of irony.

Letters of Note shows images of... letters, naturally. That doesn't preclude visual interest, of course; some of them, like the Lucasfilms recruitment ad up the page, are visually pretty arresting.

The slideshow thing works better with Awful Library Books, although, like the blog itself, the interestingness of the books depicted (rooted in their otherness) contradicts the blog's whole premise, which is to encourage librarians to weed out, name and shame inappropriate, absurd or boring books from their libraries. Leave them there, I say! We need those glimpses of otherness more than we need appropriateness.



The slideshow software works well with Japanese sites like Sajiblo (which documents the refurbishment of an old building as an organic cafe) because they tend to publish quite high resolution photos at absurdly small sizes. For non-Japanese-readers the slideshow doesn't change the essential experience of these websites (they're already image sequences), it merely strips out the clutter of text.

It's worth saying that full-screening images, while it does take away the clutter of nested windows most of us have on our screen, doesn't remove the windows metaphor entirely: what, after all, is a computer screen but a proposed "window on the world"? What it does do, though, is replace an ugly, complex collision of frames with a single, apparently-authoritative one. It replaces a messy space-sequence (lots of complicated relationships between frames and text and images) with a single, simple, tidy time-sequence. The fact that that big authoritative time sequence is actually fairly random and decontextualised is what makes it so fascinating: the big images become a sort of oracle, telling us unexpected things.

Click Opera, slideshow-ified, for instance, looks like a trailer for a sexy, didactic, utopian horror film.

21CommentReplyFlag

neil_scott
neil_scott
Neil Scott
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 11:23 am (UTC)

Firefox is brilliant. One add on I installed this morning is Jetpack, which allows you to have your own mini-Photoshop and edit any image you come across.


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pulled-up.blogspot.com
pulled-up.blogspot.com
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 11:56 am (UTC)

I use http://ihardlyknowher.com/ to display my Flickr blog-style on my portfolio website. It's a nice way of looking at the images without comments or advertising.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC)

ルイスは私の銀行口座を知っている。


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 01:17 pm (UTC)
Rikaichan

do you know about the Rikaichan add on for Firefox?- a mouse-over kanji dictionary. very handy.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 05:11 pm (UTC)

スミスさんに知って欲しい。


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kevincarter
kevincarter
Kevin
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)

I'm sure you know about it already, but it's worth downloading Ad-Block Plus right away. http://adblockplus.org. Subscribe to the EasyList, and you won't have to see the ads embedded in the slideshows anymore.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 04:16 pm (UTC)

It’s depressing that library people actually want to “weed” those amazing books, so wonderfully culturally illuminating. The notion that “outdated” books should be “weeded” is particularly troubling. Browsing the blog, I feel like an environmentalist would feel reading a blog about “awful endangered species we should just shoot”.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)

Exactly. How can such a great blog be based on such a terrible premise? And yet if they were not "weeding" we would never glimpse these rare finds they're... destroying.


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idletigers.wordpress.com
idletigers.wordpress.com
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)

Just what I thought. The word "awful" bothers me. Isn't a library supposed to be an archive, not a shop window showing what's current?


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constructionism
constructionism
constructionism
Thu, Nov. 12th, 2009 02:23 am (UTC)
ALL BOOKS WITH GRAPHICS SHOULD BE SAVED!

I worked in libraries for years, and I know that you HAVE to weed outdated material and textbooks. I used to grab textbooks out of the trash to take home.

However many of us are stuck in a pre-internet mentality. With internet, ALL images may have some value. (I am learning this as I digitize my family's entire slide collection...what used to be a boring picture has intriguing information).

All book covers should be preserved. Surely someone somewhere is interested in the history of the textbook, or maybe they are interested in seventies publishing design.


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pay_option07
pay_option07
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
ELECTROMA = POOP",

Nic, is there another CD brewing in your microwave.
At least post some of your music to one!
I'm all thumbs with MACs.



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ohshitman
not_telling
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
I'm a filmmaker...

...and sexy, didactic, utopian horror films are pretty much the only films I make... sort of.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
speaking of

"Some blogs frustrate the desire to escape text by bringing it into their images. Hipster Runoff sprinkles its jpegs with bitmapped lettering: "ELECTROMA = POOP", the images say, or "I deserve a better life / career / job". What emerges here is the extent to which American hipsterism simply recycles American strip malls and office cubicles with a tiny justifying sparkle of irony."

this makes me think of Douglas Coupland, the Canadian author of the infamous Generation X, now almost 20 years old. His new book has just been released, Generation A, which is supposed to be interesting.

Any thoughts on Coupland? He's also apparently a rather known "pop" artist of sorts; and has spent time at art school and in Japan, etc. etc. Hopefully you're aware of him...


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 07:42 pm (UTC)
Re: speaking of

Yes, I've read Microserfs and Girlfriend in a Coma. I like his spare, careful style.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 08:03 pm (UTC)
Re: speaking of

i concur. i think there's always been something weird going on with coupland; he's always been super topical, but somehow there's heart and soul, if you will, behind the prose. i can't really put my finger on it (even with a master's degree in english). he's like vonnegut and w.gibson mashed together or something.

it's also something to do with his proximity to america (being a canadian) and thus has a strangely apt affinity/insight/critique about him.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
Unpopular books

It's always sad when libraries weed out unpopular books, as that's precisely the kind of book they ought to be holding onto - especially since most of them these days seem to be using about 50% of their shelf space. I have sometimes taken out books just to get them a date stamp more recent than 10 years ago. I don't know if it works, but what else can you do?

Stephen Parkin


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Wed, Nov. 11th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC)
oh the days dwindle down, to a precious few

You know momus, I've tried to make peace and accept the fact that Click Opera will soon cease to exist, but these recent posts have been so good that I find myself mourning your leaving us all the more. You are like my own personal genius and the internet will suck hard without you. SUCK HARD!

Here, this video sums up how I will feel on February 12, 2010


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 12th, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)
Re: oh the days dwindle down, to a precious few

"This video is not available in your country due to copyright restrictions."


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Thu, Nov. 12th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
Re: oh the days dwindle down, to a precious few

Aww balls.

Google "Dude, I Totally Miss You" by Tenacious D, from The Pick of Destiny. (the video from the movie is what made it funny)


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genviev
genviev
genviev
Thu, Nov. 12th, 2009 12:21 am (UTC)

raised as a pack of wolves

full moon and foxes


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 12th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)

That's pretty impressive interface design! (Also, nice foxes!)


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