Professional page builders throughout cyberspace agree. One of the deadly sins of web design is embedding a background sound in a web page. Instantly and relentlessly presenting visitors with a constant audio clip is a sure-fire way to turn a pleasant web experience into aural torture. As a coding no-no it ranks up there with the cussed tag.
Therefore it was with some reservation that I assisted Monica Friedlander, head of DraftGore.com, in setting up a background sound on the organization’s home page. On the other hand, perhaps this case was justified. Amherst songwriter Paul Kaplan, for whom I’ve done some web work over the years, had written a real winner of a song urging Al Gore to join the 2008 presidential race called Run, Al, Run, and the Draft Gore folks were interested in adopting it as their anthem.
I edited an mp3 recording of the song to make it as innocuous as possible, toning down the volume, reducing the sampling rate to conserve bandwidth, and shortening it to a 22-second segment. I emailed the clip to the webmaster with instructions to include the following line in the <HEAD> section of the home page:
<embed src="RunAlRun_clip.mp3" loop="0" autostart="true" hidden="true">
To the song’s credit, it lasted as a background sound for several weeks. It has since been demoted to a clickable, but prominent, link on the DraftGore home page.
With the Democratic presidential primaries fast approaching, the interest in Run, Al, Run remains high. Critiquing Gore's The Assault on Reason earlier this month, writer Michael Tomasky quoted the song’s chorus in the The New York Times Review of Books. And a music video, edited by Paul’s daughter Brittany, has garnered acclaim and charged up Gore supporters since being posted out on YouTube.