Content, Design and Style

FraserAlistair consults his muse.

This Website was created for my own amusement—but, others are welcome to view it.

Idiosyncratic Content
A friend once described this Website as unique. Now, that word is so often abused that for many it is little more than a mild intensifier. Yet, my friend’s language is characterized by precision not puff, so was he correct? This is unknown, but the site does lie outside the norm: a recent search of the Web for sites about lakes revealed none which were’t using a lake merely as a device to promote either commerce (accommodation, golf, guns, gewgaws, whatever), or cause (conservation, reclamation, restoration, education).

And therein lies the idiosyncrasy: this site is actually about the Lake (and environs). There is no hidden agenda: “it is not here to make a profit, promote a cause, build a reputation, encourage a tourist, or educate a soul—as with the Lake itself, the site merely is.” Now, I don’t mind if it inadvertently does some of those things—I would not constrain the minds of others—but, the soul of the site is merely a delight in one’s surroundings. It is the site I would have enjoyed viewing, had someone else built it first.

Of course, the fact that this site espouses neither commerce nor cause makes it supremely irrelevant for many folk. So be it; as a diary of local discovery, it is as satisfying to create if I were to remain its only visitor, as if a horde were to pay it heed.

Writing forces us out of ourselves and into the lives of others.
Sherwood Anderson, (1876-1941)

Selfish Design
Pressure is placed on Web designers to satisfy many, often conflicting, objectives. Consequently, many sites look like a dog’s breakfast: multiple intrusive and inconsistent navigation systems; cluttered layout with adjacent but disparate material screaming at the viewer for attention—in short, the worst of committee output. Here, I wanted to see what would transpire if I were to satisfy only myself. In particular, I wanted a single minimalist navigation cum site map which did not change from one document to the next, and was available any place on any page. That achieved, the rest of the space was available for content.

The question is not what you look at, but what you see.
Henry David Thoreau, (1817-1862)

Heteroclite Photographic Style
Anyone who takes a great many pictures develops a style: a comfortable way of viewing and presenting the world. Often, this is not a purposeful choice, but one which evolves in response to the matter being treated. This site is heavily laden with pictures; so, it is reasonable to ask about its photographic style. Alas, that is not something for which the photographer, himself, is the best assessor. Yet, being a brash fellow, I will attempt an exegesis.

It seems to me that the pictures on this site are characterized by two things: a delight in the less-common view (extreme wide angle, extreme telephoto, time-compressing movies); an avoidance of the standard, in-your-face, shots of people (when people and their works do appear, the treatment is somehow antiseptic). The theme connecting these two characteristics is the natural world: something for which man’s perspective—whether the human field of view, the human time scale, or the human-centric content—is appropriately muted.

I note with introspective fascination that this avoidance of people does not characterize all my photography—far from it—but it certainly seems to characterize my view of Kootenay Lake.

If it happens that what you write for yourself becomes something for others as well, especially for a young reader, then you have achieved something.
Octavio Paz, (1914-1998)

Peculiar Writing
Over the years, I have written for a variety of people, from children to academics. Both vocabulary and sentence structure appropriately shift to accommodate the assumed background of the intended readers. Whether designing a museum exhibit or building a Website, one targets categories of visitors and writes accordingly.

So, for whom is the writing on this Website? Who could I possibly have had in mind as I dabble with a somewhat esoteric vocabulary, and an often parenthetic sentence structure? Who is my target reader?

The answer is me.

I am writing solely for my own amusement; I merely let others in on it.

Fraser tartan