Re: Introduction/Interactive Web Dance

Andrea Sferes (
Tue, 10 Jun 1997 18:56:10 -0400


Thanks for your feedback. Here is my response.

>I like the initial screen. It interests me with its sense of
>technological complexity mixed with a little grungy chaos. However,
>beyond this point I felt cheated. The rest of the dance was not as good
>as this screen and your message led me to expect.
>I waited for the animated gifs to load only to find they were such low
>quality and frame rate that I could see very little of the extremely
>small sample of movement they tried to show. Mark makes the point that
>animated gifs are more compatible than other formats such as quicktime
>and realvideo. They are also, unfortunately, the most low quality/high
>bandwidth method for presenting video footage over the web. Hardly the
>best choice for a "Dance for Limited Space and Bandwidth".

I think the point here in making the piece "lo" bandwidth was to not
require a plug-in as many of them require quite a lot of memory. As far as
the "low quality" of imagery goes, that was intentional. Noah dithered the
images to make them load faster. It was also an artistic choice.

>In addition, loading a number of animated gifs on one page can cause
>unexpected memory problems for some browsers (the browser's fault,
>admittedly) and this site crashed my copy of Netscape 3.02 for Mac twice
>before I got to see it properly.

If you're running 3.02 you should probably be running 7.6.1 os. As you
probably know, macs crash a lot due to potentially inconsistent upgrades.
So, this is par for the course unfortunately. And fyi, just went to view
"Progressive 2" on your site and my netscape also crashed. Its difficult to
take responsibility for the state of the users computer, configuration and
technology. Certainly, you would agree.

>In index1.html, the sequence of messages in the top left corner is
>independent of a users actions and hence potentially very misleading. You
>don't know what a user will do next so don't anticipate messages to send.
>It's also easy to accidentally stop this sequence so the "next" message
>(the link to the next page) never appears and the user can't move on.

I completely agree and will make sure this is changed.

>Also, this page doesn't fit on a standard 14" or 15" mac screen (it's a
>bit of a squeeze to fit it on a 17" screen). All the video gets chopped
>of horizontally about half way down.

I think its more effective to talk pixels vs. inches since most moniters
offer a choice. I have a 15 inch and I have no problem because the monitor
is set to 832 x 624 as opposed to the lowest common denominator which is
640 x 480. The site in general is mostly designed for the latter. This
piece is not. Most monitors sold in the past few years allows for the
higher resolution.

>In next.html the level of interactivity is much less than I was led to
>believe. The order of the video snippets is not controlled - they run in
>a predetermined sequence and one merely chooses where in that sequence to

Yes, "choose your room and your dance" is what I said, and different
starting points does constitute different dances. Obviously, its easy
enough (if you are familiar with the technology) to diversify the segments.
I respect Noah's choice. I think it gives the user a stronger sense of "a
piece". And, I like the same sequence starting at different places. It
allows me to look differently at the piece as a whole. I'm freed of the
concepts of beginning and ending an I find this interesting.

I would be careful not to let your personal aesthetics dictate the quality
of art. For me, being an artist, curating and executive producing means
looking at each piece for ITS values vs. the values I place upon it.
Obviously, some degree of judgement is required of most things possessing
worth however, too much can be limiting.

>The video snippets are too short (the total duration for all four
>combined is about 13 seconds) and the quality too low for me to really
>get anything from them.

The total seconds you've quoted is user dependent, so "13 seconds" is
rendered meaningless. Besides, I'm on a t1 and its about that anyway.
Again, I think this all depends upon how one "gets anything from"

>David is right about the net not being high tech. It's still based on
>technology devised in the sixties and is far from being the ideal medium
>for presenting multimedia. The same could be said for HTML, a language
>designed for sharing information not presenting multimedia or for
>marketing products or corporate identities. Hopefully future developments
>will improve this situation but in the meantime we work with what we have.
>I wonder what Noah Stollman was really trying to create with this dance.
>If it is, as claimed, a web dance then I consider it a total failure by
>someone who doesn't understand the medium (the web) or the technology
>(the internet, HTML, etc.) with which she is working. If it is a sketch
>of an experimental idea by someone trying to figure out how this new
>medium works then it's a start with some promise and many problems. Keep
>working on it.

Um, Noah is a man.

While I feel most of your comments are legitimate, I feel your passion on
this subject has caused you to believe that your approach, being different
in this case, is "right" or "better". Choice plays a major role in design
in the new medium. Period. And it is "new", we are not bringing dance to
the internet. At least, I'm not. We are trying to marry the two to better
inform both. I feel Noah did very successfully. He designed for the web by
creating a metaphor that worked, maintaing a graphical and html style and
arranging movement phrases together in a way that was new on the web. I
think you are assuming that Noah's choices are uninformed when they are not.

Nevertheless, I'm sorry that your experience was disappointing, and am
thankful for your opinions.

Andrea Sferes
Executive Producer
Dance Online
>Richard Lord
>Choreographer and web designer/programmer