Archive for Communication

Why is the web flat?

Posted in 1, IT and communication with tags , , , , on August 27, 2008 by Geir Stene

I’ve been wondering for more than ten years now; why does web sites on internet seems so “flat”? It’s like transferring paper to the screen.

Updated comments below article

When I ask this question to designers, they often get very defensive. Its like we all believe that a web shall have a global menu, sub menus, a logo on top, a lot of informative text and if creative some great images to follow. Isn’t that recipy like a soup in a bag? Just add water…. But do not misinterpret me, there is a lot going on and internet and the web is still only in the early phase of evolving into what we will see in the future. There are a lot of interesting blogs out there discussing and talking (writing?) about this kind of topics, one interesting is this one: 360

Inventions, phenomena’s and ideas tend to keep a pattern we have to accept; they all tend to be loyal to the origin they came from. “The world is flat” we all know this postulate, and it took centuries to evolve from this idea to the one we have now (what ever that is these days..), even after the fact was stated people continued wanting to believe that the world is flat for decades. Web sites (pages!) has a lot of it’s idea created around the idea of print. I always found this interesting, since the computer screen is digital, and factually resembles the TV set more.

Even designers used to defend the fact that designing web pages frequently seems like a “forced electronic paper version” instead of a medium of visual communication with  another fact:  “3D is to expensive in most cases” or “live images can’t get quality due to lack of broadband capacity” This statements are now less true than before, and designers are working hard to evolve the web.

The idea of (and knowledge to) create a perspective in an image was developed during the Renaissance , you don’t need 3D technology to draw diagonal lines to a center point! You need knowledge, and you need a basis for your idea world. Lot’s of interesting things are happening, but far to much of it seems to me to be “experimental”…. And I don’t get it. Experimental?? what is so experimental by implementing what art, cinema and, radio/TV has done for years? What’s so experimental by doing what PR and commercials have been for years? There is less experimenting on the web, than in most new media the last centuries!

Since the “history” of the web is, in my opinion, based upon an “electronic paper”, and the idea has been to provide knowledge and information spread, it’s hard to get out of the thinking patterns that we have to use a lot of text, mainly a form of one way communication, we will still have that as a major direction of how a web page will look, and function. Even web 2.0, social media, interactive solutions keep producing “flat web sites” If one wants’ to get out of this, one will need to take the bull by its horns, and questioning the basic of the idea of what a web site really is, for whom and to do what.

  • It came to my mind that Itera group uses the term “the world is flat” from the book: “The World Is Flat – The Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas L. Friedman
    There are two major points in my opinion on this use of term. First, using such terminology; To me it sounds typical American (excuse me my US friends) to simplify a phenomena by the wording that much so that the complexity disappear, it’s in fact a dangerous rhetoric trick of (amongst others)politicians to do so, and thereby avoid that the public focus is at more troublesome sides of the case.
    Thomas L Friedman’s book, tries to speak of a “flatter” (read less hierarchic world) but argue in fact of new business models, new technologies and how to achieve this – but, in my opinion naively overlook that it’s not very likely that e.g. poor / common people in the world (so called third world) are the one to enable this. Maybe the commercial corporation Itera group didn’t overlook this and see possibilities for profit in this term ?
    I would rather have a far more Holistic world, than a “flatter” one.


Did knowledge exist before The Internet?

Posted in 1 with tags , on May 19, 2008 by Geir Stene

Not all comes from “The Matrix”,“The Da Vinci code”or Microsoft corp! Some seems to believe that knowledge about Communication, Interactivity, Social networks and Semantics came with the invention of the Internet?!?

It seems like far too many people in our business act like they know all the theories and wide range of buzz words flying around, and that it in fact knowledge “arrived” with the invention of the Internet! . Don’t buy into it. System developers, Business consultants, Key account managers and so forth, all to often seems to have never even read Emanuel Kant, or know what the H*** the old Greeks were up to ( NO, I didn’t miss spell ‘Geek’ !)

The ‘fun’ part is when you look at Communication theories the “modern” origin is not all that far from the binary system used as a basis for computer technology per see. Most modern communication theory seems to accept and often adapt the Shannon and Weaver’s theories (1949) that was developed to understand how telegraphy, telephone, and radio wave signals could be sent, and received without disturbances. From this very physical viewpoint we got the vocabulary extendend in the communication theories: ‘Information source’, ‘Message’. ‘Transmitter’, ‘Encode’ ‘Signals’, ‘Channel’, ‘Receiver’, ‘Decode’ (reconstruct) and the element of ‘Noise’, that makes effective transmission of communication dysfunctional. Shannon & Weaver were aware that his model didn’t address ‘meaning’ and stated: “These semantic aspects of communication are irrelevant to the engineering problem”(1948). But this limitation seems to have been forgotten by many of the ones working with communication theories later on. Still this model is widely accepted as one of the main seeds out of which communication studies has grown. The terminology in semantics and semiotics make use of the terms and emphasizes the ‘code’ and ‘decode’ elements of communication, to try to pinpoint the challenge of ‘meaning’.

My point is that it’s needed to get deeper into the set of ideas that has evolved since Aristotle’s ‘Rhetoric’s’, via a wide range of theoretical developments. Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, the Norwegian Jostein Gripsrud are just a few clues of further reading, all of them important to read. In my opinion, so is more general studies in Sociology such as Theodore W. Adorno and Pierre Bourdieu to name two examples. Especially in these times where we speak of Social networks, Communities, web 2.0 and Semantic web, sociology and anthropology are important readings to get a grasp of what communication and communities really are. Wikipedia is a great starting point and this article gives a lot of clues to further readings: Communication theory. And when you’re done with that – it’s time to pick up Jurgen Habermas and Ludwig Wittgenstein !

What do you know?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , on May 4, 2008 by Geir Stene

In danger of becoming a part of the blogging phenomen, where everyone is out on the web to communicate, and no one is left to read, I’m joining the club.

The reason for doing this is clear, and unclear at once, just to warn you all. It’s a way to let my network, colleagues, competitors, customers future employees and all other interested get a better understanding of my views on subjects in connection with my work, who I am and so forth. At the same time there is a serious risk that I’ll be twittering, getting into totally other topics as it fits my mood.

I’m to be found at Facebook if you want to know more about me, my profile and network. Since I joined two colleagues a couple of years back and started the company meetcon you will also see some of what I’m specialized in, work wise.