So I’ve got the site up and working. Pippa suggested that instead of having white text on blue, I have a rollover to dark text on light – so now when you rollover the bubbles, they change to a kind of rainbow sheen with black text. It makes things easier to read, and it does look pretty! If I had more time, I would definitely add more to this: one thing I’m seriously considering doing is adding a note to the bottom, which explains that this is set in a quantum universe, but that all of this is possible on a smaller scale. I think this would keep the science in people’s minds, and I think I can easily add this in html and css without redoing all of my photoshop work. It’s a shame that because the piece is so highly dependent on graphics, I’ve had to do it mainly in html and photoshop. I probably could have made more use of css, but it didn’t seem like I needed to – even if it is more elegant theoretically, I felt like it was unnecessarily overcomplicating things. At least if I use photoshop, I know things will look exactly like I want them (sort of!), especially with text changes etc. Certainly the way I have done things works for me, and gives me the functionality I want the site to have, which is the most important thing as far as I’m concerned!.
Here is a handy tool for if I want users to have to remember anything. The notepad automatically saves the information to the user’s hard drive, so that if the site crashes, they still have the information. At early points in the story, the user could be given codes etc., which they can save in the notepad for later use. I really like this idea, and all the HTML code is put there for me!
I quite like the idea of the story starting off in a regular, boring universe, and then stepping through a crack, or tear, in space-time into a parallel universe where all the quantum strangeness happens. This idea may have been pinched from xkcd. However, I think the idea of the background being ‘ripped’, with normal walls at the edge, and the ‘quantum universe’ in the middle might work.
However, I currently can’t decide whether this should be the way into the story, or whether the user should get ‘shrunk’. If this were the start, the ripped world wouldn’t be relevant (unless the ‘rips’ in spacetime are only visible to the very small person), so I need to think of a good image for the quantum universe.
There are a lot of representations of parallel universes as ‘bubble universes’, with multiple universes ‘bubbling off’ the old ones, so perhaps I could use this motif.
Since it’s also about spacetime, perhaps the stereotypical ‘grid-curvature’ idea could work into this somehow – white bubbles on black backgrounds?
Something very important to think about is my audience. I think I’ll be aiming it at younger people – not necessarily teenagers, but at a sort of 16-25 age bracket. I kind of want to aim it at those who already read hypertext fiction, whilst leaving it open for those who don’t to still enjoy it. Hypertext fiction is a slightly outside-of-mainstream medium, so this isn’t going to reach everyone in the country, but that’s OK. Targeting it at people who already spend a lot of time on the web is still a valid audience – and there will be lots of non-physicists in this bracket I’m sure!
However, I’m worried, especially given the content, that this might turn into a sort of ‘geek humour’ site – I know most of my friends would either dislike it, or enjoy it for the geekiness of it. I think I will have to be very careful to keep the geek references down: things like Alice and Bob will certainly make sense to those who know about quantum mechanics, but hopefully it won’t be obvious to those who don’t know that this is a very geeky reference!
My reference point for this sort of thing is The Big Bang Theory, which has a lot of humour that only people who know about physics would get, but manages to get a popular audience because of the other humour and good storylines.
I’m certainly starting to realise what a big challenge I’ve set myself…
We have been learning how to use Dreamweaver, and I’ve spent some time picking up basic HTML and CSS. I made a ridiculously silly ‘website’ about cats, using the task as an opportunity to pick up basic skills – like formatting, sites with multiple pages, embedding links etc. As you can see I haven’t exactly tried too hard to make it pretty (or functional, or interesting).
I’m the kind of person who needs an actual project when programming – I have never just liked to play for the fun of it. Once I have an idea, I will learn as I go along creating the site – for a website about cats which no one will ever see, it seems like a waste of time to spend ages on the visual side of things. Luckily I’ve done a fair amount of programming in the past, and I’m typing these posts in html too, to try to get to grips with the basics, like writing in bold and italics. I have used a document preparation system called LaTeX before, which uses quite a similar format to HTML, so it’s coming along quite nicely. There is a really great site here, which has most of the information I need as well. Still, it’s even more of an incentive to finalise an idea…