For my first piece I choose "They Rule". I really liked this piece, it really is an interesting and relevant idea and putting it into a relatively simple interface to show the ruling structure of our economy. As far as interface the site is pretty straightforward pick a company or pre-loaded map from the dropdown menu and look for the connections created. This site also touches on the issue of control, economic manipulation and conspiracy, putting all that into the site really does allot to show the connections that for the most part are never mentioned elsewhere. For improvement I would suggest adding some sort of color/shading differentiation between some of the lines, with all the lines the same color it makes it very easy to get visually confusing on big maps when you cant trace someone back to their boards.
Second, I choose the "Stardust" website created by Joshua Davis http://www.stardust.tv/. I thought this website was visually pleasing and interesting, but overall was lacking after viewing it for a short time. The background graphics do really go with the website since after looking at the work created by the company much of it is 2d graphic design interlaced with motion and the whole wobbly effect with the graphics really goes along with the work. I would really like to see more motion with the website, it has such interesting expressive motion when changing categories but in-between its so stationary and doesnŐt even have some sort of rollover effect. So it doesnŐt feel so dead in-between pages.
Lastly I looked at "Velvet Strike" http://www.opensorcery.net/velvet-strike/. This one caught my eye immediately since I used to play the game counterstrike. The site basically is about making the game less violent in kind of a wacky way, by using the in game spray-paint feature to either protest war/violence or use a hopscotch sprays so that you can play while you are in the game world. Reading the about this site seems to have been created around the events of 9-11, which at the same time I always wondered what was happening in the counter-strike world at this time of chaos, where players who almost always played on the terrorist team suddenly switching sides, or even letting the counterterroristŐs win? Where people holding discussions about the events, I had long since wait playing so I never really knew, but it must have been in interesting time. I have always loved playing half-life mods online and the spray-paint feature has always been of interest to me, using it people can express anything they want and leave mark on the virtual world, I have seen many highly opinionated sprays based on consumption, the bush party, war in Iraq and American culture, just like someone may go out into new York and spray their message on a building you can go online and let everyone else read/see your message. This site emobys and reminds of this concept and really inspires you to make your online spray something meaningful.
Part-1 : I really have to agree many of the trends and atempts to be cuting edge in interactivity can be a real hastle. Im really against a website have any music play atall, i always listen to music while on the computer and i hate haveing to search for the damn "turn this off" switch or any sort of sound other then button clicks and such. It really works out that a simple interface will always be the best design, but its simple, so a professional web devluper may feel they need to make the most complex jazzy thing they can, and often this can come off as annoying, useless and just distracting in terms of interactivity.
Part-2 : I would have to agree with Josh Davis about looking to the systems of nature for inspiration as i take a great interest in these kinds of things. Its these simplelicitys that make up our universe and reconizeing and useing them in art and design is an interesting idea. As for his work i found it interesting how he created the intricate, random abstract shapes featured in many of the peices.