BY DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THE WEEKEND EDITION, FEB. 10-12, 2017) — Thank Bog, Brady, Belichick, and Bob Buhl that the City of Pittsfield finally changed the look of its website. No longer do you call up the site and see Pontoosuc Lake inundating the PHS Dome. In its place you find a series of photos of The City Beautiful.
Many of the photos were taken downtown on Third Thursday, about your only chance of finding living souls as opposed to the Walking Dead who otherwise haunt the big byway. Other shots comprise the typical “Pittsfield at night” “Pittsfield at play” pastische typical of such Chamber-type propaganda. Oddly, there are no winter shots. From the photos, you’d think Pittsfield had San Diego’s climate. That’s what the unimaginative hacks call transparency: We can see right though it.
The photos are beautiful but rotate much too quickly. The result is a rapid succession nearly wipes out the logo and the side tabs. THE PLANET asked its resident geeks for their view. They gave the site a D+/C-: passing, but mediocre.
They advised fewer photos and no full-page photo rotation. The design works against itself. It wants to show the photos full screen for impact. All well and good, except that when you place the search engine directly over this rotation, the viewer mentally “blocks” the photos. The city’s designers violated one of the most basic tenets of web design: The landing page should welcome, not dazzle or distract, the viewer. People who go on the city’s website want information, not “bizzybizzy.”
As for content, it’s not much better. Click on “News.” Two stories are featured, both from Nov. 26, 2016. It case city planners missed it, we are now in mid-February. When you go to the calendar, only one meeting is listed for the entire rest of February (from 10th to 28th), a 7 p.m. Parks Commission meeting on Feb. 21. Where are the rest?
For example, the calendar doesn’t list a 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13 meeting at Herberg Middle School to discuss Pittsfield’s suitability as a home for 50 Syrian refugees. And why no mention of City Council or School Committee meetings? In fact, if you go to the council page and click on two links — “2016 Meeting Schedule” and “Meeting Schedule” — you get two identical pages of last year’s meeting dates. Go ahead. Try to find 2017 dates.
Gosh, do you think the city is trying to keep citizens in the dark? The only other logical explanation is that the web redesign was done by amateurs who likely charged a bundle. You know how it goes: Joe’s brother-in-law got the contract after rigged bidding.
The website may have a new look, but it has the same old outdated and useless information. You think in this digital day the city could produce a more recent roster of board and commission (B&C) members than Aug. 17, 2016. The list itself shows innumerable people whose terms expired in 2016, 2015, and even 2014. For instance, the web site tell us every member of the Cable TV Commission has long expired, as of Feb. 28, 2014. Are they dead? Replaced? In the Phantom Zone?
The B&C roster takes up 32 pages, so tell THE PLANET why only 16 pages have lists of names and why 16 pages are blank? Who does this stuff? Is there ANY accountability?
Tell us, Mayor Linda Tyer.
Tell us council president Pete Marchetti. Tell us, John Krol, Kathy Amuso, Melissa Mazzeo, Pete White, Lisa Tully, Kevin Morandi, Nick Caccamo, Chris Connell, Donna Todd Rivers, and Tony Simonelli.
Tell us Kathy Yon, Josh Cutler, Dan Elias, Pam Farron, Tony Riello, and Cynthia Taylor of the school committee.
Tell us how and why should ordinary citizens have faith in the government over which you preside? Why should they believe you, as their “representatives,” can or will do the next right thing in their name? Why should they believe you even care, when your actions — from the tiddly-winks of web design to the gravitas of budgeting — shows otherwise?
You can’t manage a budget, you can’t handle parking, you can’t plow roads, you can’t keep the city safe and clean … why, you can’t even, in 2017, put together a decent web page.
The sad fact is, if you live and love in Pittsfield, you are being overtaxed for the privilege of not only being underserved but taken for chumps. Dig it now or never: The Suits don’t care about you. They got theirs, and that’s enough.
Meanwhile, you know what they can do with their dot coms.
With that, we open The Comment Line. Have a great weekend, everybody!
“The Internet is so big, powerful, and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.” — Andrew Brown
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.
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