Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A View That Was Killed

I was surprised a few months back when I saw ViewMaster reels being sold at a bookstore. It took me back briefly to the good old days where as a kid the ViewMaster produced such captivating images that tantalised the mind’s eye. Recently while perusing through an economist magazine I came across an article that talked about how Fisher Price was planning to do away with its ViewMaster range of reels for its viewers. Once upon a time ViewMasters were the rage.

Long before we had computer games we had ViewMasters. These red goggles with their little lever transported you to another dimension all together. Hold it to the light and you could appreciate the simplistic 3D images that these devices provided.

Over the 70 years of its existence, the ViewMaster has told many a tale. From fairytales to giving you views of the Grand Canyon, to modern day reels featuring the likes of Shrek. The question that popped into my mind was as the ViewMaster fades into obscurity, what is going to be its replacement?

At the first thought, you might say that the IT age has a lot to offer. Well I thought so too, but then realised that at the price of the ViewMaster you would be hard pressed to find a replacement.I once posted an article talking about how gaming promised to be the next generation of story telling. But what I wonder now is what about traditional story telling? Where no interaction is necessary.

This is the age of Play Station Portables, but how many kids will ever use a PSP to learn about a new place or read a fairy tale? Perhaps the guys who make PSP games should think about targeting that market. But in the heart of hearts, it just wouldn’t be the same. A play station toting kid today considers the joys of the ViewMaster ancient and outdated.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The web that may be

It is interesting to think about what the web is going to be in the years ahead. From its early days of static HTML pages to today’s dynamic driven pages and rich Flash content, the web has certainly come a long way.

Two new developments have made me wonder what we can expect to see in the future. The next version of windows is just at our doorstep with its promised support of a multi-touch interface. I also notice that we now have touch monitors starting to enter the market, though still not very easy to get your hands on. This makes me wonder if the web of years ahead is going to evolve to meet the touch generation.

It is natural to expect us to have website which are more touch friendly. Larger buttons to minimize the possibility of a wrong click. What’s more with the multiple touch feature that is going to be implemented, websites are likely to have more draggable and sliding options. What this does for website usability is a point to ponder. We can only wait and watch and muse about things to come.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lounging at the Sierra Hotel

Every once in a while you see a website that really re-thinks the internet format. I recently picked up a Practical Web Design magazine that listed 2008’s outstanding sites some of which I had chanced upon during the course of my work. The ones that make their mark are the ones that take the path less traveled online. Yesterday I chanced upon yet another site (due to an attractive banner on some page that I can’t quite remember) which I thought was a worth mention here.

A site that created by the US Air force, it adopts an interesting storytelling approach to talk about the achievements of Air Force personnel who have gone beyond the call of duty. The site makes use of attractive comic book like visuals and a audio narrative to get the message across. The site also pulls the user in by integrating a number of mini-games within the design. Another thing unique is the linearity of the site. Websites are usually non-linear to a certain extent, allowing visitors to hop to another section at the click of a button. This site on the other hand progresses through a story in a linear fashion once a person clicks on a particular section and carries it out with panache.

I am still going through the site, but what I’ve seen is impressive indeed! Which makes me believe that the site will successively manage to entice people in learning more about the American Air Force and maybe even decide to enlist, which is the goal of the site.