Don’t Look at Me in That Tone of Voice!

When it comes to online identity, there is a great deal of time spent on developing the "look and feel" of a website, but very little effort is spent on developing the tone of a site.

It seems strange that people jump straight to the visual, straight to the "big bang", without stopping to think about HOW to get there. A website is a place to tell a story. It is a space to hold a moment of history. And the visitors that come to your site truly are interested in your story – and if it is not compelling (visually or narratively) – then they will leave. On the web there is always somewhere else to go!

Of course, having a story is one thing. Developing a WAY of telling your story is the next challenge. I struggle with this here as much as anyone. But I think it is important to see it as an ongoing struggle.

Each day is different. Each perspective alternative. And if you are open to grow and learn, then your site, your tone of voice, and even your visual style will mature and change with time.

Got an opinion? Share it with the rest of us by commenting!

Train of Thought

This began as a poem. The story chose, instead, a more linear form.

A whistle, a whistle, a blast. Five o’clock jabs to the eye, the skin, the vein and all that is spoken is "ah". The narcotics of my life egg me on, drive me forward, cajole the poetry out of the crevices of my mind. And yet, here I sit, eyes out the window, tongue lolling in the suburban breeze, licking my lips like salted potato chips.

I walk brick by brick, verse by broken verse and yet these platforms are empty of you. Empty of the fuel and fire and slippery edges of you where you were. Of course, I laugh! You were never caught by the perimeter of a photo frame in quite the same way as I. You escaped the narrow field of view – or so you claimed. But for me, that was the project – the big payoff. And one day your greasy smile would be plastered across my lens.

I am back at St Leonards station on a Friday evening. Everyone has cleared out except the residue of life. We sit, plastered on the disused billboards, stuck to the 1970s shopfronts too old to move out of the wind. And how does it scream? There is a tunnel of wind that belts down the highway, following the road, chasing the cars and echoing  off the peopleless buildings.

It is a place emptied of life – except I. All around me I can see it, smell it, trip over its entrails, but this place is only a shell. And I am the lowly mollusc, feeding, feeding, tasting. Until Monday rolls around again, and I roar with the arrival of the lonely crowd.

Change This

When we see something we love, something that appeals or gets to us we are connecting. We may hate it too. But we may be compelled.
I saw this site some time ago and have been an avid follower. I have read many of the manifestos available on the <a href="">Change This</a> website, and I have forwarded them, printed them and used them to generate new thinking in friends and colleagues.
There was the Clue Train … and the Hugh Train. Hook up your little red wagon and see where Change This will take you.
All aboard – a thousand good ideas are leaving town.

Flash in the Pan?

Macromedia has finally released Flash 8, with roadshows and presentations happening across the globe. There are even online web seminars that will help us all come to grips with the funky new features. These Macromedia guys really know how to launch a product!

But are we ready for it? So far, most efforts have concentrated on implementing video for the web. Some sites have cleverly integrated cool music to beef up the presentation, but this is only beginning to scrape the surface of what is possible.

It is important to focus on <b>interactivity</b> – providing non-linear possibilities that are designed to promote action, reaction and engagement from the end-user. Video streaming is only going to provide that single story, but we all want more. So much more.

This is a challenge for all designers and developers. It is also a  challenge for writers. From this point on, it is essential that all begin to work collaboratively – more in the way in which game developers work. A flash in the pan? Not likely.


I listen to the words
the sound of breath
the pulse
the urge
the weight
and wait.

The waiting is always the signal
for disappointment

The waiting looks to tired eyes
like the drowning of men

It smells of rock-less seas
of mediocrity

But then the breeze

I dare not believe
the words that feed
an emotion that awakes
a cry for the departed

and a hope for future giving.

Time to bite my tongue
bite the finger
spike the palms

A birth? Yes indeed.
An awakening cry
is also song for gulls.

It is 5am and I breathe.

Eye on History

It is easy, oh so easy
to seek and find
behind leaf and bough
in shadow and in rain-puddles
a fear that we know.

The shape of our anxieties
and the taste of our fears
lives in the contours of
our daily lives – in the rooms where we live.

The boardrooms we frequent
the hallways we scale
all sound as hollow as
rocks in the graves.

The four pm food courts of
forgettable meals
these too are the
price of the days that we fail

Each moment of belief
or a hand not extended
Each easy swallow of
political sandwich

To read is a power
to write is a fist
to the bleeding eye of history’s
impotent mass

These days are creeping
there’s no time to waste
stand, write, talk, scream
before today is past.


Caxton Dreamt

The crumbling edges of a finger-worn map
brittle with the desires of forgotten men
stinking of failure
The tongues of parchment
have no more words to impart.

A new contour is arising
A flavour more pungent
A nightmare more steeped in the
daily exasperations of men
and their suits

Our exertions must be immediate
The urge is stronger than breath
The pen holds firm
The nib

A finger hovers over keyboard

I have blinked three times

And my stories span the globe

It’s All in the Story

It drives me nuts when someone says to me "a picture paints a thousand words". It is even worse when that person follows through with a reason, or a process, or a formula like <a href="">this</a>.

Sure, good copywriting can be strengthened by bold design. But where does the design start? It starts by someone needing to communicate a message to someone else – they have a story to tell.

From there, everything falls into place.

My Radius

Breeds like contempt
The armies of the few
the ignorant
the slimy faced
the self believing voters
of compliant governments
Are all part of the
consiracy to delude.

But we two … we hold fast
to a belief in conversation
In poetry and language
when all that is left
is the mealy-mouthed
then my compass transforms
my world.

The Servant of Chaos

We begin with a rant. A rumble. A shout. There is more in the mind, more on the fingertips, more spilling from the edges of our quivering lips than can fill the words of a thousand weblogs.
The diaries of the insane, the newly reposessed, the righteous, the deluded, and yes, even I.
The daily diatribe of the left, the right, the religious and informed brooks no argument.
But we will give them one.
You and I.
We will give them one.
There are more to the words of consumers than the corporations expect.
We huddle in groups, in chat rooms.
We explode on the keyboards of a million call centres.
Our imagination is unheard of. Our thoughts cancel out the process.
We are your hearts and your minds.
We are everywhere, all places, all over the shop.
In your blood, at your workplace.
Serving you tea.
Writing you emails.
We don’t really want to, for this is who we are.
A new opportunity opens every day.
It opens with the page.
The pen.
Another rant.
In control? Hell no!
We are in slavery to the chaos of our lives.
This is the manifesto of one.