Saturday 3 March 2012

Childhood Remixed launch

Professor Mike Saks, UCS Provost, gives the opening speech at the Childhood Remixed launch

This week I was involved in the launch of Childhood Remixed, a project I've been working on for nearly a year now. My initial brief was to create a visual presence in the form of a logo for what would become the first academic journal to be published at University Campus Suffolk (UCS). Working alongside Allison Boggis and Darryn Thompson at UCS, the project initiators, the remit of my involvement morphed as we discussed what Childhood Remixed was actually going to be.

From the outset it was only ever going to be something that was for UCS staff, final year undergraduate and postgraduate students, and alumni, with the intention of giving them a first step on the publishing ladder within the confines of a 'safe' environment. With a focus on childhood, the interdisciplinary nature of the journal would also mean that image based work would be welcomed for submission alongside academic papers. It was also always intended to be an online venture, but it needed to be able to be read offline as well. Therefore, it was quickly decided that a downloadable PDF was the best format.

The 'in-house' nature didn't mean that it could be something that had any less design consideration applied to it and it was interesting what I had to take onboard in designing this document. Very early on I decided to let functionality dictate my decisions. For example, as this was intended to be read on screen, I quickly realised that it had to be one column throughout to avoid excess horizontal and vertical scrolling, something that could easily lose the reader's place. On what could be up to 3000 word papers, it is important to maintain focus.

Other user considerations to be taken into account were in regard to the differing devices that this document may be read on. The iPad, for example, wouldn't have forward or backward keys to hit to progress to the next page in the same way a desktop keyboard does, and excess scrolling could again mean an over zealous finger action shoots the user to the wrong page. I therefore included interactive backward and forward buttons at the start and end of each block of text.

The length of articles also made me realise that it was unlikely people would want to sit and read the whole journal in one go and therefore needed to be able to return to the contents page at any time, from any page, so I included this function.

Accessibility issues, in terms of visual impairments, were important to take account of, as were whether people would actually read it on screen. Therefore, being able to print it off, not waste ink and still be readable meant tinted backgrounds and elaborate colour schemes were out of the window.

The success of Childhood Remixed, and where it goes next, will become clear over the next few months as readers hopefully respond to our requests for feedback. But considering there were six papers submitted (all of which passed the peer review process), with one being an image based work from my colleague Russell Walker and another being an audio submission, proves that there is a will within UCS to support such a venture.

Jessica Clark presents her paper to the launch audience

Russell Walker discusses the relationship between his childhood drawings and his adult creativity

Finally, it has been a pleasure to work alongside Allison and Darryn on this project, and it is exciting to think where this may go next.

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