Expanding Book Projects

I left the projects/portfolio page alone for a bit when I first started getting into the redesign, aside from mentioning in Information Architecture that it needed to be completely torn down and replaced.

Existing Problems

Instead of listing a mad array of experimental multimedia art and open source software projects, the main thing I want to see on the new site is a list of books—both computer-generated and hand written (and anything in-between, I guess).

I currently have two books in production whose names are still redacted but will increasingly show up on here as I start to dig deeper into the design process, building covers and portfolio assets.

I’m also considering starting to organise years of research into a book about the Rogernomicon, the 1980s revolution that destroyed and remade New Zealand. I haven’t exactly decide how it’s going to be structured yet. What I’ve been looking at more recently in 2020 and 2021 is the history of social change in the infrastructure design and architecture bureacracy—how Works and Electricity were unmade on the fly, as typing pools, early computing infrastructure and departmental print offices got asset flipped while controversial handovers to new organisations took place under the backdrop of government chaos and widespread protests.

Then there’s the list of all the experimental NaNoGenMo ebooks and books of concrete poetry and a couple of other visual novels that I worked though a while back but haven’t polished or published.

Presentation of Writing

So all in all, there’s more than enough to fill up a new Books section on the site. The main information question is whether to nest it all on a Portfolio/Projects landing page or organise everything into sections based on the specific media type. The impact this would have on the organisation of the site is fairly minimal but it could have a psychological impact in terms of reinforcing more of a sense of urgency around finishing the two redacted projects and being able to spend more time on finishing the social history and design policy book (I’m getting a bit of feedback from people who want to read the stuff breaking down NZ’s economic policy deadlock from a ‘how did we get here and how do we change it?’ perspective. I’m not sure I will ever be able to fulfil anything that ambitious, but I want to give it a shot).

I think the reason I previously tried to avoid organising things like Books, Games, Art etc is that these categories start to feel inane when you’re working on media that blurs the boundaries and is hard to define specifically as one or the other or gets into awkward hyper-specific categories like Simulation. I don’t care much about defining these things. It annoys me more than interests me. But it’s worth exploring this further if it helps reduce the complexity of all the meta/marketing stuff that surrounds publishing major media projects.

From a reader and peer perspective though, the main themes potentially break down somewhat differently than the average portfolio site because I do so many different things.

  • Science fiction, fantasy and weird generative art writing
  • Social history, neoliberal bullshit, tech criticism
  • Building narrative systems and design tools
  • Theorycrafting on software architecture and design science topics

It would be nice to shunt people through more of an editorial design experience that juxtaposes various elements that are thematically related rather than trying to figure out content types for everything. Projects as the master content type or Books would work fine in this case as there’s less pressure on the content type hierarchy to get across to the reader as the main pathway for navigating the site.

First Look

The first thing I do before going into the code is take a quick look at how broken the projects page is after the reset and unfortunately it’s not great. The layout was all CSS grid stuff so it breaks down fairly neatly into a mobile-friendly scrollable list but without the CSS snapping there’s a bunch of high DPI images wildly blown out all over the page. Yeah, I don’t think I want to keep any of it.

broken looking projects page with the styles reset

Sketching Spreads

I hit a wall when trying to start with the organisation of the content structure, so I want to round-trip these ideas through some graphic design thinking before I get too caught up in the fine line between sensemaking and nonsensemaking.

Sections I’m currently thinking about:

  • Work in progress/Current projects
  • Catalog of generated books and zines
  • Lists of arttoys, interactives, explorables, minigames
  • Lists of software libraries by language
  • Software tools and indie products
  • Software architecture portfolio

So quite a lot to get through but a lot of the content and information is already there, and maybe it just needs to be organised better on the page.