January 10, 2005

FN Server: Blog Posts Hold Image Wikis, With Image Annotation, Plus Text Posts

Note: cross-posted to FN Server.

Greg Elin has been working on this experimental project, FN Server. It is an extention, a rif, on FotoNotes which he's been working on for years. That annotation tool allows for notes to be made within a jpg image. The new FN Server project goes much further to make (in what is right now, a single site of posts) something where users can post images and text, into little blocks, each functioning similarly to a blog post as a single, linkable conversation.

Inside each block .. it's whatever you want: images, text, annotations .. nested within one another. And changeable by participants. For example, within a block is a wiki like variant for an image, annotatable by anyone. Or there is a text with links function like a more typical blog post, and not editable, though it would be fun to have comments. Tags can be used for either type of block, and then searched by others. There is a daily view, a view by user, by tag, and at some point, maybe individual or group pages because as more users come, there will be the desire to break down from the whole even further.

Most importantly, to really see what is there, you must use it, because the navigation and functionality can't be seen from one single vantage point, but rather, must be traversed. You must wander around, see things from different angles, find the trail to putting objects and notes together, making conversation and sharing information.

FNNav.jpgI love the navigation box... located within a single block in the upper left grid of blocks. It's simple.. and elegant, unlike the x-y axis navigation systems often used by webservice sites where the top and left and/or right navigation bars are cluttered with a million links to features, views and skews, so heavy and overwhelming, and giving no sense of the function or use of the tool because they attempt to textually link everything at once in a purely hierarchical metaphor. This nav box is lovely: it is represented in what it is also navigating, and is almost on the same level as the other blocks except that it's always first and therefore doesn't scroll off the screen with older entries. It gives just enough of a hint of each function, so that each choice brings me to a result I expect, or if unknown, leaves me with something I can make sense of and relate back to the choice I made.

As to what content is there in the posts now, I've been on group blog projects before, where we agreed as a group to certain topical or other editorial standards, or where by invitation from one person, the blog topic or focus was directed and owned. But this little experiment the last month has been fun, because there is no director or topic focus for this group. Each of us has posted on various topics, mostly through images, with annotations but with some text posts as well. It is random in a way, but personal, engaging and playful.

Update: now FN Server is on source forge... as an open source project!! We love that at napsterization.

Posted by Mary Hodder at January 10, 2005 12:04 PM | TrackBack