Grandiose ideas are often the downfall of any undertaking. Take Napoleon and the decision to invade Russia, Tony Stark building Ultron, the Sega Dreamcast and the withdrawal of Sega from the console market. The most important point I am trying to keep in mind for the project is to keep the parts under the hood straightforward and trust the end product will be more than the sum of its parts. The second point was ensuring compliance and responsiveness on both computers and mobile devices, as I am running with the idea that most people idly browse the internet on their phones. If my site was to develop into something useful for students, scholars, and casual visitors during the 2020 Games, I had to ensure a clean and intuitive interface that wasn’t going to cause me grief a few years down the line.
With that in mind, two thoughts are guiding the overall design aesthetic behind my project’s web site development. The first is the question of how to present the Tokyo of my project, which is much like the question facing Japan and the upcoming 2020 Olympics. What elements of Japanese society and culture to highlight? As I mentioned in a previous post, the plans for the cancelled 1940 Olympics highlighted Japan’s military might with a strong undercurrent of nationalism akin to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, while the 1964 Games stressed peaceful technological advancements. The 2020 Games on the other hand seem to be pulling into two directions: popular culture and traditional Japan. I did have many concepts for the site when initially conceiving of this project, including completely unnecessary options like different skins, my favorite being a dystopian Akira/Blade Runner/Ghost in the Shellwireframe model—which unfortunately was not what I was trying to convey. My enthusiasm for popular culture was threatening to put style over substance, so I have opted for a site echoing the blue and white motif of the 2020 games.
With the general parameters of the look I wanted to present in place, the next step was working through the programs that will make the project tick. My site is being built on Bootstrap, which I chose for my existing familiarity with the framework. As my project is examining the change in the Tokyo urban landscape and the ramifications of the Olympics through the venues, I wanted to include a map on the landing page. From the minimaps on the games that guide you around a virtual Tokyo, to the way Tokyo is trying to reshape the urban landscape and make a city notorious for a confusing layout more easily navigable for tourists, a map reflected a good deal about my project. After consultation with fellow CHI scholars I decided to run with Mapbox for a few reasons. Mapbox offers multiple maps to use and the interactivity I wanted. While I had been seriously considering a static image, the ability to scroll over the whole of Tokyo while also controlling the ability to zoom in and out was far more appealing, despite the additional technical demands placed on the project.
360 degree video and images were one of the earliest ideas I had for the project when conceptualizing how to present the Olympic sites to the public, partly due to the influence of games, and partly because it provided another layer of interactivity. Visitors watching the video would be able to move the camera around. Additionally, site visitors with the most rudimentary VR headset could also experience the site in that manner. I was already in possession of a 360 camera during my time living in Tokyo and had filmed all four of the initial sites I had in mind for the project. Although virtual or augmented reality would be difficult to implement for the project at this point, 360 video will come as close as possible. Native support for 360 is available through Youtube which will allow me to imbed video into my site without the need for a plugin or additional viewer on the site.
As I had originally envisioned, WordPress is forming the core of both the Olympic blog and my newly added Olympic podcast subsite. Previous experience with WordPress drove that decision, along with the knowledge that the blog and podcast will continue to be updated to at least late 2020, compared to the main site in which once a component page is complete it will require little upkeep to stay relevant.
What is this about a podcast you may ask? More on that later.