About Your Stroll Through This Gallery

''Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.''
A.J. Liebling


January 1995

These are the Good Old Days

Cruising the World Wide Web may be a new experience for many of us. Whether this is a treat or a treatment depends on the all important response time that our browser accesses other pages. We are always subject to variables like the speed of our modems; the fanfare inside our own computers and even the time of day we wire up (holidays not included.) Each of us now downloads different kinds of data (from small zippy text only files to mega, forever downloading Quicktime movies;) so, you might get pain, you might get pleasure.

No matter how fast a setup you have, it's still not fast enough. Undoubtedly today will be seen as the "Good Old Days" of impossibly long wait time. "How couldthey stand the "The Dark Ages of Low Band Width?" I liken this notion to the early days of the Nickelodeon "flickers" shown in hastily constructed tents. They were different and exciting for all newcomers but hardly hold a candle against an IMAX 3D mind blower thrown up on a brobdanagian 60 by 80 foot screen with THX surround sound.

The Problem

The problem we now face is painfully clear. The analog telephone line most of us use to get wired was designed long ago for much simpler data... our voices. We now find this low band width lacking for our current Internet needs. With this in mind, designing a Photo Exhibition in Cyberspace that both looks good and is a pleasure for the viewer to access is a conundrum. More than a year ago, October 23,1994 to be precise, I designed my first Virtual Gallery so that a page containing GIF formatted photos opened rapidly...dare I say instantly... boom... just like that... bang...zip... rapido-mente pal. Now I was really Net cool. GIFs were then the sole graphic format permitted on the Web. The problem with my coolness was that my 'art' was weenie...1" thumbnail versions of my work. This forced the user to then click on each and every thumbnail in order to see what the contents actually looked like. Clicking on these thumbnails triggered the launching of a yet another application, "JPEGView." A new window then sluggishly opened beyond the browser's confines, allowing the photograph to finally be seen...at long last...yuck.

I have since chosen style over substance. I am an 'artiste' you know. Visitors now encounter a more pleasing look upon entering each new Gallery Room, which, I hope they will then stroll through. The problem with this architecture is that these "rooms" may open quite slowly (the wait is worth it, I assure you.) I concocted the following plan to work around low bandwidth and still allow the user greater flexibility to access different graphics at will. This will only work with Netscape's "New Window" option.

The Solution

First: Start your tour by selecting any of the Gallery "rooms" (there are 17) and take a leisurely stroll through each room, much like you would at any exhibition. It would help if you allow each page to load completely before you begin scrolling. This is part of my intended design.
I suggest that you do notclick on each and every photo to see its enlargement your first time around in the Gallery mode (you figured this out already, right?) The problem is that you must make an about face and return right back to the room you just came from in order to move on. This would be great except you now have to wait some more while the Gallery photos re-load once again. On my home computer this takes a while.

Here's a possible workaround: If you use Netscape and want to further examine by enlarging a particular piece just hold your mouse down on top of a particular photo and you will access a drop down menu (your CPU must support this feature.) Launch the option "New Window with this Link" and you will then behold a separate window with your enlargement, leaving the original "room" alone.

Or you can even magic carpet your way through the JPEG enlargements with another lickity split option . Click on our page called "Blowups" and you will find a long list of the 82 (and growing) individual pieces. You might open a second "New" window and have this list standing by in plain or partial view on your desktop. You may now move through the entire exhibit quicker than a pea in a traffic cop's whistle.

The 2.0 Solution

Well blow me down. I am in love again... with Netscape. Good old Netscape...and after all that trash talk about their first betas. Version 2.0 now offers a simple yet elegant navigational ability letting the user keep a long list of photo subjects on the left side and a second window to the right where your choice pops right in. Check it out!

September, 1996 Update

I've gone from the GIF to the JPEG format and have begun to roll over all my inline images. You may notice some larger dimensional size photographs in the gallery rooms. Some old GIFs may lurk because I've had zero time or more probably zero ambition to convert them.

In closing I'd like to add that I fully realize my Website is graphic rich and may be virtually inaccessible to guests with bush-league browsers or pokey modems. I have basically designed this exhibit to be optimal for the next several years. In other words it is designed for fast modems or wide bandwidth (accessible to the masses in the not too distant future...I hope.) I have chosen a design which shall endure for a while (I mean, how many times do I have to re-design and re-implement this site?) I assume, of course, that our wares, both hard and soft, plus the infrastructure of the great web itself will continue to evolve.

Signature: Robert Altman

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