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Poster: garthus1 Date: Apr 14, 2015 4:05pm
Forum: texts Subject: Re: Hate this new format

Flash Redux, The New Archive Look, And Putting Lipstick On The Pig


After the Flash debacle some time ago, it is questionable that any understandable listening is occurring at the Archive concerning it's 'New Look'. No effort to my knowledge was ever made to contact the power users; some of us are actually programmers, web designer's, and Systems administrators (In my case all three and then some ... since 1968), and no one has ever asked for my thoughts on making such a change. In fact I have attempted to talk to people a good number of times ... offering to volunteer my expertise ... but apparently those requests have fell upon deaf ears. If you look at what I have put up to date:

Main Collection page:

I think that I have over eight collections; each of the categories improved as I created more items and experimented with different methods and technologies. Innovation takes place like this and should (if it is occurring) actually help optimize the systems which we are using. The main issues I see with the new interface is that it looks like the developers are more interested in 'eye-candy' and aesthetics then they are in optimizing the user's 'experiences' when using the site. I do not deny the usefulness of aesthetics … if not just from an artistic perspective; but the primary goal of web designers should be to optimize the operation of the site and the access and utilization of the information on that site. I am currently working on a project will will be at least the size and scope of the 'Archive' and have learned much from the Flash debacle and now the so-called 'new-and-improved' site look for the Archive. The criticisms in this post on the Forum can actually be useful for making the Archive really 'work' better, or they can be ignored as was done in the 'Flash' debacle; I hope that history is not repeated. In the project which I am working on, we are going to great 'pains' to insure platform interoperability on all devices possible. However, assuming that the 'Touchy-Feely' interface is the only way to go will only produce a system which is guaranteed to waste the time of 'Power Users' in particular … who have to work with what is there every day. Why not allow for a permanent toggle between the 'new' 'touchy-feely' look and the old classic interface. When I am working with uploading items … I could care less about how the interface and tools being used look … how they work is of greatest importance.

I have asked twice … but once again no response. Look at this link in both the Classic and so-called new and improved beta site:

How is the user supposed to see the flip-book for the record cover, sleeve, or record image. In addition to the 24 bit FLAC 96 khz studio quality recording … the user is given the option of viewing a hi-resolution image of the Record, label, cover, and sleeve. As you can see the new site cannot display the flip-book along with the recordings. I originally asked about doing this some-time ago, but found out that if I create the item as a 'text' collection; it will allow derivation for both the PDF and FlAC files. Users of the new and improved site will not be able to see this. Also, I think the color contrast on the older site is much more pleasing to my eyes, the new site looks washed out. I like the blue for the Beta … but other compatible colors have to be used to get the desired contrast and effect, otherwise it appears that one is lost in a kaleidoscopic world.

I have said enough. Question … when will the Archive actually start requesting formal input from its Power-Users … the people responsible for creating the content for this wonderful site?


Gerard Arthus
Instructor National College
Director of the Information Technology Department at National College
409 Lowell Avenue East
Mishawaka, Indiana
Cell - 631-335-5250
Home - 574-217-8726  (For Course Portal) (Philosophical Discussions) (Poems)

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Poster: Jeff Kaplan Date: Apr 14, 2015 5:22pm
Forum: texts Subject: Re: Hate this new format

i'm happy to pass your comments to the design team as some of your thoughtful comments, criticisms and suggestions are above my pay grade. we value all our contributors and users (all 3 million of them that visit each day.)

Thanks for your feedback.

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Poster: stbalbach Date: Apr 14, 2015 5:33pm
Forum: texts Subject: Re: Hate this new format

> all 3 million of them that visit each day

That should be the driving factor. What users are doing and how they use the site. Nevertheless I too prefer numbered pages to scrolling - maybe have option to choose? I also liked it when the search terms were highlited in the search results page to quickly find false positives.

Jeff, this is off topic. I noticed the Beta site is back to using Lucene. Do you know if that is temporary or perm? If temp, any sense of how long before the final switch might occur? It will have a big impact on my work to transition away from Lucene :) Anyway I hope there is a warning so I can prepare, currently have about 10,000 custom search URLs to maintain.


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Poster: Jeff Kaplan Date: Apr 14, 2015 9:47pm
Forum: texts Subject: Re: Hate this new format

yes, search is currently lucene. we continue to explore other options but i do not have any knowledge as to when there might be a change.

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Poster: stbalbach Date: Apr 15, 2015 2:49pm
Forum: texts Subject: Re: Hate this new format

Ok great. Lucene is fine by me. It's a powerful tool for finding works buried in the millions. But also gives decent results with a basic search.

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Poster: ARossi Date: Apr 22, 2015 3:03pm
Forum: texts Subject: Re: Hate this new format

Hi Gerry,

Thank you for taking the time to look at the new site, and for all the great stuff you've added to the collections here.

I run the Collections team at IA, and the project to build the new site.

You are absolutely correct - the new site doesn't do a good enough job displaying the items you mention. There are a lot of items in the archive that have multiple types of media in them, and most of them display badly on both versions of the site. It's great that you found a workaround to make two players available on the "classic" site.

Making a more versatile media space for items on the new site is high on our list of priorities. But we can't just solve your particular problem - we have to solve the problem for all types of media in all types of combinations. That's not an easy interface design or technical problem to solve. But we do hear you, and we do intend to make improvements in the coming months.

I'd also like to address your broader question about soliciting and accepting input. I've been working with the archive since our very first service release in 2001 (the original Wayback Machine), and I helped build a lot of the active collections and communities here. I assure you, we did not make these decisions in a bubble. We did many user interviews to generate ideas, several rounds of user testing, gathered feedback on the prototype from quite a few power users - there are thousands of them! - across the collections, and since we made the beta public we have received (and read) well over 15,000 feedback emails.

The site has gone through several rounds of changes in the last 6 months, all based on feedback we got from users. And every time we make a change we read the emails, look at the forums, and examine the site stats to make sure that the majority of our users are seeing a positive benefit from those changes.

I hope you will continue to check back with the new version of the site as it progresses, and thank you for all your contributions.


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Poster: bstepno Date: Apr 27, 2015 2:08pm
Forum: texts Subject: Re: Hate this new format

No hate here...

I've been browsing around the new format for the first time today, discovering new things, and appreciating all the redesign effort that's going on.

I'm a basic-HTML, CSS & WordPress guy and can't imagine the complexity of dealing with so many media formats, sometimes on a combined page like that Petula Clark one.

However, I wish many pages had an obvious way to switch to a text-only alternative. For example, it's charming that folks have created amateur "CD Cover" graphics to go with audio files, but they are a tremendous waste of screen real-estate when browsing. I assume that there is (or will be) a simplified version somewhere, especially for visually-disabled folks searching for audio books, old time radio shows, etc. But how do you get at it?

The simple alphabetical list of the old format someone illustrated here ( had its points. (Oops. When I first posted this I hadn't found the Collection/Title menu, so now I see the alphabet is still alive... but the cover graphics and page-scroll reloads still take a while. A "hide graphics" button would be lovely.)

Meanwhile, the full text search and keyword lists are still very helpful, if a bit inconsistent. I haven't been an uploader of content, so I'm not familiar with that interface, but is there a way to facilitate cross-linking?

Example: the Old-Time Radio Research Group, whose uploads I use constantly, posts both a "certified collection" page for a radio series with downloadable zip files and a "singles" page for the same series, so that people can stream or download individual MP3s. But there is not always a cross-link between those two pages and they do not appear together in brute-force search results or index pages, except for the title list. Perhaps the linkage issue a limitation of the tools used, or just a need for someone to come in and do some editing.

I would be willing to help, but I'd need to know where to start learning and, as the Ghostbusters put it, "Who you gonna call?"

Regards and best wishes,

Bob Stepno
retired pro and prof of journalism, media studies and Web production

This post was modified by bstepno on 2015-04-27 21:04:08

This post was modified by bstepno on 2015-04-27 21:08:02

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Poster: Mr Cranky Date: Apr 27, 2015 4:07pm
Forum: texts Subject: Concerned about this new format

As I have suggested in previous posts, everyone should spend the time and watch the full video below. It requires a few minutes but answers many questions. It is also useful to follow the links and understand the driving forces behind things.

On the positive side, there have been several excellent user submitted work-arounds. My thanks to those of you who post them.

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Poster: garthus1 Date: Apr 22, 2015 10:43pm
Forum: texts Subject: Re: Hate this new format

Do Customers Really Know What They Want?


This will only be an abbreviated response. Actually, I have written something much more comprehensive but it is not completed as of yet. I have owned businesses for most of my life and I think that I have a good understanding of the customer or user perspective. I have also been involved in Academia for over 20 years; this (academia) was not a good experience. If they were the types of 'power users' which you interviewed, than I am not surprised that the interface works and looks the way that it does. The hallmark of academia is impracticality, know-it-all-ism, and definitely not the desire to produce optimal results. Education today functions in the 21st century using 18th century pedagogy (with some wonderful exceptions ... but not enough). They are the last people that I would ask for such advice. The content that I have put up on the Archive was done with spare time stolen from sleep and with a desire to produce the best items possible. No government or state funding here nor deep pockets-donors, so I was forced to innovate and be creative (even with my time). In the future the intention on my part is to have at least two full-time workers putting up content so I can transfer my physical collection to the Archive.. I really think that significant improvements could be made in the site concerning how items are placed into the Archive. If it were not for the collection pages I would have put up my own Archive for these items and I think that at least a 30% savings in wasted time could have been achieved … but I saw no reason to try to duplicate what the Archive is doing so I am willing to tolerate the time-wasting. However if I had to use the newer interface to upload items, that would have been too much wasted time. As I get older I become increasing less tolerant of wasting time and people who design systems that waste my time. If I can save 1/10 of a second of someone’s time on my website, I will do it even at some cost to myself. It seems to me that too many web-site developers often only make one's experience more wasteful as they create so-called improvements in sites.

In closing … users in many cases do not really know what is better and often are impressed with what they believe or think looks better. This is why such surveys all must be taken with a grain-of-salt. I can show you what works better with bench-marking and I assure you that many of these so-called improvements have only increased the time it takes to upload and create items. Yes, we must be sensitive to what customers or users think they want … but we must also strive to make things work better and not waste people's time … this is what is called Optimization; and this is what actually drives Progress, Innovation, and System Usability.

Thank you,

Gerry 23 April 2015