Frustration

I’ve been trying to implement two things for my questionnaire. One is a tag cloud which comes back after the user has filled in their answer. This will give them two entry points in to all of these words.

Now I come to write this I’m considering the value of having the tag cloud at all. Is it any more than a trick? Will it help people to reflect on the questionnaire. I’m actually inclined to think that the best things here will be the simplest. People will want to read other people’s answers. They’ll definitely want to do that. Who wouldn’t?

Hmm. There might be some interesting patterns developing though. Maybe some random word will get lots of usage, like ‘cottonbud’ or something. That would be interesting. Is there any need for that to be dynamic, though? I could easily update that every day or two myself. I’ve found tag cloud scripts that do that and seem to be quite easy to style to my own ends. The script I’ve been struggling with is here at viralpatel.net. Frustratingly, it keeps coming back with the same errors and, looking at the message board, clearly it does for other people as well.

This has been the most frustrating part of this project. I’ve spent so long fruitlessly trying to learn php, with which I am now beginning to get at least slightly comfortable. It’s frustrating though, that I have a cloud generator that feeds from an array but I don’t yet have the programming nous to make that array dynamic. I’d rather be able to do it for the pleasure of doing it, even if I decided not to use a dynamic cloud.

This raises another question in my mind. Maybe all of those clouds should go at the end of the questionnaire anyway. Maybe all of the answers should go at the end too. That would certainly be a more elegant way of laying it out, visually speaking. It would also give the user more space to do the questionnaire on their own terms, too. It might flow better.

So maybe this frustration with getting the technical bits of php working is no bad thing. It is certainly making me question the real value of having it there. What I don’t want to do is make excuses for myself by saying it’s too complicated so I won’t bother. That’s not good. Another rthing taht rings in my ears is the fact that some wag called tag clouds ‘the mullet of web 2.0’. I can live without that label. I do think it’s unfair though so I’m ignoring it.

On a slightly different data tip, I’ve refound Drastic Data who are rather fabulous. I’m playing with their toolkit. It strikes me more as fuel for future fun than present solution though

The other thing I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of is that question based captcha script. There are tons (absolutely sodding loads) of them that come as word press plugins. Bum! Would it be cheeky to write to the creator and ask for a non wordpress version? I still have a couple more options to test though, which I found on SourceForge.

PS – Julian was very helpful this week when he made a javascript hack that means we can style and display the eight to ten most recent pictures of our flickr stream on the website. This is better than the generic slideshow we did have. It was one of those things that was bugging me a bit.

Category making humjam | Tags: ,

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