A (brief) social semiotic analysis of theglobeandmail.com

This is an assignment done recently for class (ENGL 408C: The Rhetoric of Digital Design). The goal was to “Discuss the design of an online newspaper … Combine the terminology of newspaper design with the observations of social semiotics.” I chose theglobeandmail.com mostly because they recently did a redesign ‚Äî it got mixed reviews (exhibit A, exhibit B, exhibit C, Google the rest yourself!) and from an aesthetic standpoint, I’m not the biggest fan either ‚Äî which gave me quite a bit to talk about.

I’ll warn you that it’s not the best and/or most invigorating piece of analysis in the world; many of my points are either rushed and/or exaggerated and/or unnecessary. It’s not very thorough either; I only touch on various aspects of the site and ignores lots. Plus, it’s an analysis from a social semiotic standpoint which is not the most exciting thing in the world. Simply put, you should probably just pass on reading this. But, I figured I’d throw it on here anyway since some of the points I make are valid and/or interesting.

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Magazine Trends: Online (2008)

This article was originally written in August 2008 as a submission for the Digital Design Research Project, with the hopes of exploring the various technologies in use by the magazine industry and what movements the trends were indicating. Note, as this was written in 2008, some of the points mentioned are either outdated or no longer valid.

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Digital Design Project: theboar.ca

My independent digital design project (DAC 400) completed as part of my Digital Arts Communication specialization explored the push by magazines into the online and technology spaces. The goal of the project was to explore viable technologies to use as a platform for developing an online presence for The Boar, an arts and literary magazine produced by and for the students in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo. I explored the traditional online website format but looked further by designing a prototype of an up-and-coming Flash-based technology known as the “digital edition.” This “new technology” is being adopted industry-wide like wildfire (see Issuu, Scribd, Zinio, etc.). It takes a traditional PDF and converts it into an interactive magazine-like object on a webpage that can be used and manipulated much like a physical magazine. My prototype (although not entirely functional) took a step further and explored the possibilities of creating greater ties between a magazine’s website and their digital edition via a synchronization of comments, bookmarking, and other social networking type tools.

As supplementary materials, I have attached 3 documents that I completed as part of my project:

  • Technology Research: exploration of various technologies in use by the magazine industry and what movements the trends were indicating.
  • Strategy, Scope & Structure: Documentation outlining requirements for the online presence and drill down into specifics, as well as a high-level architectural diagram.
  • Final Analysis: Analysis of the end result of my project, including rationale for technical and design choices as well as possible enhancements for the future.

Also included is a somewhat-working version of the digital edition prototype.

The website in its current state, which has deviated slightly from the original design, can be found here: http://theboar.ca