in with the new

Happy New Year!

If you’re reading this via RSS then its unlikely that you can see the transformation on the site, but if you’re sticking to your browser, then you’ll see that I made some big changes to the site tonight. So just what am I up to?

From time to time, it seems, I’ve become exasperated with blogging. In September 2003, I suggested that in response to an imploding cultural condition, acting fast needed to be replaced by thinking strategically so I shut down the blog in favor of working on audc and other projects. Last October, feeling all blogged out again, I wrote about my boredom with blog sites and how fresh Daniel Eatock and Jeffrey Vaska‘s Indexhibit format and photoblogs such as the RSS-free underworldlive or Perous Secret Diary (based on Jan Schjetne’s Death Boogie Diaries) looked. Maybe nobody cares anymore, I thought, since so many of us read blogs through RSS that site design can be nothing more than a default.

But any good designer will tell you that form and function are tied together. If too many designers neglect function in favor of form, too many bloggers (even those who blog about design) neglect form in favor of function, not realizing that the default templates they are choosing are themselves impeding the experience of their sites.

So I decided to do something about it.

In returning to blogging in 2005, I did so with Drupal, a content management system that could not only run a blog as greymatter or blogger once did for me, but could also manage my entire site. Drupal had the added benefit of providing an RSS feed (of course in the meantime blogger and even greymatter acquired this capability as well), thus making it an interface to other sites.

This time, I’m staying with Drupal, which has become much more powerful during the intervening two years, using it to make over the experience of this blog to emulate the Indexhibit format. Consider the remodel to be a late response to Daniel Eatock’s call to replicate the format on his old Foundation 33 site, a call that eventually led to indexhibit.

Although it took a while to figure this out, it turned out to be elegant and simple to implement, an example of just how powerful Drupal has become in comparison with more dedicated blogging engines such as WordPress. Largely, I just rearranged the blocks in the sidebars and made a couple of tweaks to the CSS, but I also created a new block listing a large number of recent posts for the left sidebar together with a similar page using Drupal’s views module.* To be fair, Indexhibit does much more than simply display blog posts in a similar format, but for now Drupal offers more capabilities for me. Still, if you’re an architect, designer, or artist, Indexhibit is a powerful tool that is well worth looking at. Unlike Drupal, it looks good out of the box, has good image management tools, and is designed for people working in the visual fields.

So with the new year, a new look, and a new way of experiencing this site. No more lengthy blog-style pages (well, ok, if you really need it, you can get the classic experience here). I’ve wiped away the sidebars that virtually took over the page (see the classic view above or this link if you miss the map). Instead, the site should load quickly, receding into the background to let you focus on the content. The links on the left are meant to suggest that there is more to this site than the blog and are there to encourage readers to browse.

I think that what I do here this year will be worthy of your attention.

Kazys Varnelis

*For Drupal users, the views are set up as follows:


view-type: list / use pager: yes / nodes per page: 150


view-type: list / nodes per block: 70 / more link: yes

for both:

fields: title, option “as link”, descending sort

filters: node:front page=yes / node:published=yes

sort criterea: created time:descending

If you do this, you will notice that there is no RSS feed. The answer to that was simple, I added the following code to one of the blocks on the left:

<link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml” title=” RSS” href=”” />

I’d like to thank C-Lab‘s Benedict Clouette for his valuable comments as I developed this interface.