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So if you ever wanted to know how much I talk about things…

December 9, 2010, 10:32 PM

So did you ever wonder how much I talk about what in this space? Well, I did, and so I sat down with a pen and paper and categorized my Journal entries. Seriously. I did every Journal entry starting with this entry at the beginning of 2009 about an Augusta County issue, all the way through this entry, which I remember most for composing it on the Metro.

And what did I find out? Well, it’s kind of surprising and not surprising. Not surprising is that the thing I discussed most in the past almost-two-years is Metro – 38 times. Surprising, however, is that discussion of Anonymous is so close to it – 33 times. In 2009, I actually discussed Anonymous more times than Metro by one (24 Anon vs. 23 Metro), and then it reversed to more what I would have expected in 2010 (15 Metro and 9 Anon). Then after that, I discuss work – 24 times since the beginning of 2009. I wasn’t really surprised about that.

But you know what was really surprising? Since January 1, 2009, I wrote about snow 19 times, making it the topic I discuss fifth most often overall. I guess that’s what happens when nature dumps a few feet of snow on the Washington DC area and we’re all trapped in our houses for days at a time. I racked up most of those hits during the blizzards last winter, and in February 2010, that’s just about all I talked about.

So rounding out the top ten, we had, in order, Metro (38 entries), Anonymous (33 entries), work (24 entries), left-wing political activism (21 entries), snow (19 entries), Schumin Web (18 entries), myself (16 entries), Stuarts Draft (15 entries), my apartment (12 entries), and then the tenth position is a five-way tie between Dupont Circle, Montgomery County, my parents, the Sable, and Video Journal entries (7 entries each). Note that I reserved the right to put entries into multiple categories. Video Journal entries, for instance, were categorized as Video Journal plus whatever I talked about in them.

So why did I do a topic analysis of however many zillion entries I’ve written? Well, it’s all part of the convert-to-WordPress-and-overhaul-the-site initiative that I’ve been working on. I’m trying to think about how I would style a revamped Schumin Web, and one of the things I want to do is retire my current rainbow-colored logo and replace it with something fresher and more modern.

Initially, the idea was just to refresh my current logo ahead of the site’s fifteenth anniversary in a few months, retaining the design but replacing the rainbow with a different color scheme. Part of the problem there was that I didn’t find any new pattern that I liked. Additionally, a number of coworkers and friends of mine had suggested that I might do better doing an entirely new logo from scratch. After eleven years with the current logo, it wasn’t a bad idea, and so if I was going to completely replace it, a refresh of the existing logo’s color scheme would look like a curiosity, a stopgap measure, or worse, indecisiveness or desperation, rather than something serious. Plus it would require having to redo a lot of the merchandise in the Online Store to put the new logo on it. After all, a Schumin Web logo has to not only look good on the Web site, but also on all sorts of stuff in the Online Store.

Abandoning the color-refresh idea, I experimented with a concept that I called “Daisy Wheel” as a potential new image-mark logo, but it was ultimately a pretty picture that didn’t work when dropped into a page with actual content (the idea was to have it initially replace the rainbow logo on the current site design). Plus no one knew what the symbolism was behind it, and that was a problem, partly because there wasn’t much symbolism behind it other than that a silhouette of my hand was incorporated into it. And considering that my hands are fairly average-looking, especially in silhouette, it didn’t particularly convey the “me” thing that I was going for. That concept rose in late October, and I was finished with it in early November. When I went down to Stuarts Draft, my father and I had a long discussion about what a logo should convey, and that was the end of my Daisy Wheel, since our discussion really made me realize that I was putting the cart a bit in front of the horse, putting artwork before meaning, and, well, garbage in, garbage out, as they say.

That also gave rise to my doing this analysis of my Journal entries. I wanted to see what my site was really talking about in the relatively recent past. And I honestly didn’t know for sure. Sure, I wrote it all, but one can get so bogged down in the details that the big picture is elusive. Right now, for instance, my main project on here is getting the Stewart/Colbert photo set out, and then doing more Transit Center photos (still a two-year backlog there). Then Journal entries as I see fit, and a few ideas for new Photography sets, and, of course, I have to pry myself away from Wikipedia long enough to actually do this kind of stuff.

One thing this analysis doesn’t cover, however, is the photo sets. In the period being analyzed, I did seven Life and Times photo sets, and five Photography sets (plus one not yet published). The photo sets provide larger and deeper coverage than Journal entries, but I don’t know how much weight I should give them compared to Journal entries. Plus it also skews things when you consider that I don’t normally discuss material that is going to turn into a photo set in the Journal after the event has occurred. It’s unusual for something to get double-coverage in the Journal and in a photo set section. Adding the photo sets into the analysis would certainly add more numbers for left-wing activism, Anonymous, and the family, possibly even knocking Metro out as the most-discussed topic.

So with the analysis in hand and lots of advice and suggestions from friends and family (which I greatly appreciate), hopefully I can come up with an idea of what I’m looking for, and then start designing. One thing I need to remember, too, is that I do better initially with pencil and paper, and then turn it into graphics after I’ve doodled a bit. The 2001 “Circles” site design, for one, came from doodling, and I’ve always considered that design one of my better-executed site designs.

Another thing I’ve decided in all of this: the current rainbow logo will stay until a CMS-driven version of Schumin Web is fully formed. After all, why restrain a logo design that may last another eleven years by trying to make it work in a site design that we are planning to discontinue? Seems to make more sense to launch a new logo with a new site design that was designed for that logo. When the current logo was introduced in July 1999, it was placed into an existing site design that wasn’t designed for it, and it looked a bit weird on that design until a site redesign happened in September 1999, which was designed to use that logo. Kind of like when retailers change their logos, and while you see the most recent logo on some things, mostly temporary signage for displays and promotions, much of the store has not been updated to reflect that new image, including the exterior signage. That new logo looks weird on the older store design. Then once the store gets a full remodel to bring it up to the company’s most recent design standards, the new logo looks better. Think Kmart here for a moment. The last time I was in the Kmart in Waynesboro, in 2008, it had current signage hanging from the ceiling, and the current logo on most signage, promotional materials, and employee name badges. But then the exterior of the store had the old Big Kmart logo on it, and the store’s layout, decor, and many of the fixtures dated from when the store was converted to the Big Kmart format in 1998. So the newer stuff looked a bit odd with the old design still very firmly in place.

So let’s see what happens, I suppose. I also have a lot of work still ahead on this project, as there’s still a lot of stuff that I still have to figure out how to do in WordPress. I don’t quite know how to do some of the pages that are currently database-driven, like the Fire Alarm Collection pages, in WordPress just yet.

Categories: Schumin Web meta