The Chaos Theory of Information for the average webshoe

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Some more reflections on the zen of the practical art of website making
for those who get information from paying clients. (I mean, while we
wait for visitors at alt.html ... I know some of you severe types prefer
silence. Sorry, not in my nature. <g>)

There is the idea that some people have, that information that is given
to you by a client has some actual structure, hidden perhaps. But this
is mostly not so. What the average webshoe gets all too often is
fragmented missives from clients.

This is not the slightest bit of criticism of clients. What they wish to
convey is often quite clear. It is just that there is no real hidden
form to it. And, often enough, to look at the other side of this coin,
sometimes the client does give you the information in a structured form
but one which can be safely thrown out as they mostly do not know the
peculiar requirements of the website.

The safest idea is to suppose that somehow what the client wishes is
that whoever visits the website can answer (counterfactually if
necessary) some imaginary list of sensible questions. How the client
conveys this so called information to the webshoe is simply vague,
mysterious, intuitive, chaotic.

Everything changes when the webshoe finally is satisfied he has all he
needs in this chaotic form. It is his job, then, to give it structure.
There is no hidden structure. It is a gift to be bestowed on this chaos
so that the audience is spared staring into some Utter Unknown.  

We have had examples time and again of folk on these usenet forums
saying they want to let people know such and such, and please, what is
the best way to do this? And they get answers, often with offers of
quite different semantic markup. Often, the answers are equally good or
there is not much to tell them apart in effectiveness for communication.


Re: The Chaos Theory of Information for the average webshoe

dorayme wrote:
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Ok, ok, I'll have a go at this.

I've been both a client for and a creator of marketing materials:
print, trade show, radio, Web, direct mail.  I've been responsible for
giving advertising and PR firms direction on the message and the form of
what I want created.  I've also been responsible for creating such

There may be a Zen (properly capitalized, although, I understand a
Martian whose name is all lower-case may have a bias against
capitalization) quality at work, but I think that is something that may
arise only dependent upon the individuals involved.  Indeed, I have
worked with totally clueless and Zen-less ad and PR firms.  Gestalt was
not in their vocabulary. And some of them actually did really nice work.

That said, the burden is on both.  Somehow the client must express his
concept and desires regarding both form and content in a cogent way.
Likewise, the provider must be able to articulate what they believe is
pertinent and "best practice" given the industry, medium and message.

Other than that it's pretty much a total cluster-f**k of a process where
I say:

1.  Do A
2.  Communicate B
3.  Make it look like C

And the vendor comes with:

1.  We thought A was short for Asinine which we think your idea was
2.  "B?  We don't like saying "B" so we didn't say that at all"
3.  "Our design approach (even though it looks nothing at all like the
other half-million dollars of media your business uses) isn't "C."  We
much prefer a Beta-Phi approach to capturing the zeitgeist of our
current dynamic marketplace and ..."

Which is when I say:

"What part of 'I'm paying you to do what I want' do you not understand?"

Now, I'm not talking about mechanics here.  Not what DOCTYPE to use, nor
what kind of printing press, nor what microphone to use for recording
the radio ad.  I'm talking about the final product, not how they get
there.  I want their input and creative expertise.  But if I'm ordering
a 10 x 10 trade show booth design I don't want them coming back with an
8,000 square-foot two-story architectural drawing.

Ed Mullen
It's not an optical illusion. It just looks like one.

Re: The Chaos Theory of Information for the average webshoe


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Mostly I work with intelligent folk who perfectly well communicate the
information they want to get across. In most cases they leave it to me
to structure the information. Zen is the art of structuring the
information from the chaos. I don't mind chaos and have nothing against

You can write the book on the Zen of informing the webshoe! I was
talking about the poor sod sitting there with his feet up on the desk,
smoking and waiting for some tall dame to come in and give him a job.
She comes in, she says one thing but means another and he ends up not
simply finding her missing husband or daughter or whatever but
uncovering a criminal organization and a lot of bodies. Although the
client gets to use his own live body a while, not that he minds, mind
you, he discovers she is not as innocent as she made out. He sorts
things out of the chaos, gets paid and drives off in his 40's beat up
Buick to finally get some sleep at what he calls his home...


Re: The Chaos Theory of Information for the average webshoe

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dorayme, I worry about you. You are in serious danger of becoming a
Woody Allen film. If you are lucky it will be "Play It Again Sam" but
there is a real danger that Tom Baxter will pursue you

Re: The Chaos Theory of Information for the average webshoe

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I understood everything you said except the funny thing in square
brackets "[OT]" Maybe *this* is the real clue that you are right, after
all. Now you have me worried about me. <g>


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