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Ideas to use on the web April 18, 2009

Posted by michizzle in symposium.
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Fred Ritchin, co-founder of PixelPress.org, discussed efficient ways of creating visual storytelling online.  The digital environment is composed of “discrete chunks” meaning online multimedia should be treated differently than in a continuous analog one.  Storytelling on the web should be more like a conversation which can be achieved by using hypertext.  The narrative moves in different directions like taking hypertext links to move through a story. 

Ritchin believes that what is missing from a lot of the journalism done today is perspective.

“I started to understand journalism the day I left it,” he said.

  Online news serves as a search function instead of being used to browse topics.  A browser friendly website can give voice to the subjects of the piece in a way that traditional pages cannot. 

Ritchin proposes that images used online should have a four corner system in which each of the corners contextualizes the image in some way.  For example, the top right corner may show an image of what happened before the dominant image occurred.  The idea is to give the reader a more interactive view of the subject to keep them engaged in the story.

About ten years ago, Ritchin co-founded PixelPress, a site dedicated to providing alternate views of the material they covered.  In 1996 the site created a project showing different aspects of Bosnia.  It was a four hour trip through issues the country was facing that the reader navigated with hypertext.  Ritchin laments that more media does not utilize horizontal scrolling simply because of the complicated nature of the technique.  He believes that it is important for the reader to experience the story on their own terms. 

“This is the most exciting time to be in journalism, but we have a lot of work to do,” Ritchin said.