Hypertext- Student Blog Reviews and Reflection

I reviewed these student blogs:

Amanda David

Susan Patterson

Jasmyne Ford

Reading and replying to my classmate’s hypertext project drafts reminded me that although the Twilight Zone episode says we are all alike in ways, we are also very different. I learned so much about creativity and collaboration (even if indirectly). I was glad that my classmates provided such honest and helpful critique on my project, and I tried to be equally helpful. I found that the process of reviewing made me sensitive to how I worded my criticism as to be objective, yet open to the idea that there are many forms of artistic expression. We are each unique.

To improve my own project, I need to make some adjustments to my font sizes in order to be more consistent and choose my focal points more carefully throughout my site. I also need to reassess my choices of color and page arrangement. I realize from my classmate’s sites the benefit of white space for contrast and clarity, but also that how much white space to use is a personal style choice. I think that some of my layout could benefit from clearer delineation.

Susan and Kristopher reviewed my project. I anticipated that I still had work to do and the comments that I received reflected that.



Response to Coover and Krueger, and My Exploration of “Hypertext Gardens.”

hypertext watercolor

CC image posted at Flicker by Derrick Tyson

Coover’s article (and certain other projects I’m currently engaged in) seriously forced me to contend with my idea of composition being frozen in space to be consumed at a leisurely pace by bibliophiles on a Saturday afternoon. It’s telling of human nature that that was also Plato’s objection against writing over orality, what Coover calls the first “great event” in the history of literacy.

Now, here we are at another junction, “the third great event,” hypertext literature,  and as  Coover wisely surmised, “something was happening out (or in)there and that I ought to know what it was” (707). Equally as curious, but admittedly not as driven, I thought now would be a good time to explore the Hypertext Gardens: Delightful Vistas by Mark Bernstein.

I found the Gardens at Eastgate: Serious Hypertext where I conservatively tip-toed into the first (Cutting Edge) link. I was immediately side-tracked to the “Building of the Garden” where I admit I stifled a yawn. As I traveled on, however, I was captured by the beauty, simplicity, and content of the text which caused me to reflect that I seem to be, at least in a small way, part of the intended audience Bernstein was writing to.

But, that was only because I proceeded down the path that I chose rather than the traditional linear page-flipping. Kreuger points out in his article “”Responsive Environments,” that the author is “composing a sequence of possibilities, many of which will not be realized for any given participant who fails to take the particular path along which they lie” (387). Good thing too, otherwise Bernstein would have lost me at page one.

I can really see this as a useful writing assignment for a digital writing class. In fact,  I found this grant-supported first-year composition project that explains in detail how it was created in Storyspace. Unfortunately, like most things tech related, the software is expensive.

Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Nick Montfort, eds. The New Media Reader. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003. Print.

Coover, Robert. “The End of Books.” Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort. 705-709.

Krueger, Myron W. “Responsive Environments.” Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort. 377-389.

Hypertext Project Blog post 4

Here’s a basic outline/map for my classroom website:

Here’s the link to my first Hypertext Website Project

Hypertext Project Blogpost 3

Hypertext Project Blog 3

I watched a tutorial I found on FollowMolly.com. This website belongs to Molly Schroeder, a technology integration specialist, a certified teacher, and Google Apps for Edu certified trainer. This is her promotional site, but on the Tech for Teachers page there’s a free YouTube video in the bottom right corner of the page of a webinar that gives detailed instructions and walks you through creating a class web site.

I wanted to just jump in and get my feet wet so I paused the video at each step of the process and took notes. Later I used my notes to begin playing with a test site of my own. As you can see, it was a messy process. After reviewing the CRAP guidelines, I realized that I really needed to just scrap my test site and start over.

Response to Papert, Kay, and Goldberg.

Mindstorms: Metacognition for Kids

colorful kid impressionistic style

CC image posted at Flicker by ssoosay

Papert examines the socio-cultural implications of putting kids in charge of free knowledge/ creativity in a nation of traditional, but possibly obsolete educational thought. He defines three concerns that are held by the different sides of the technology argument. The skeptics, he says, underestimate the potential cultural effect of mass computer use.  The critics point to the annihilation of social culture, widening class distinctions, and government surveillance as probable outcomes.  Papert holds a more optimistic, “some might say utopian,” vision of human potential augmented by computer technology, especially in the hands of children.  He sees writing instruction culminating in a joyful union of concrete and formal/creative process. Imagine, grammar and multi-draft essays rising to standards that will even pass the standards (tests).

What is happening now is an empirical question. What can happen is a technical question. But what will happen is a political question, depending on social choices.

Papert influenced the utopian vision that Kay and Goldberg brought to fruition with Dynabook, a personal computer capable of being manipulated in an interactive process of user and machine, where discovery is applauded and errors are accepted as part of the process of learning. More of a skeptic than he likes to admit, however, he foresees many of the political, social, and ideological conundrums that are a reality for us today:  Who decides what is taught, how that knowledge is disseminated, and who is allowed to fall behind. These are the questions that are magnified in a society where economics frequently seems to drive educational values. Teachers, he surmises, are the problem ― and the solution.

Teachers need to recognize the broad cultural “renaissance” taking place and not cling to the “myth” that technological language, whether print or programming, is sacrosanct.    The learning curve stagnates in classrooms where technology is outdated, unavailable, or where teachers are reluctant to learn new methods (or professional development money is slashed). In our society, that means that corporations will drive which programs will thrive with transfusions of high-tech dollars, and which will anemically exist in QWERTYville. Being somewhat of an optimist myself, I admit that I feel a growing excitement among my peers for a shift in college composition classrooms toward a pedagogy that embraces multiple ways in which to teach all components of writing to a diverse student community. On the other hand, my critical alter-ego constantly sees Big Brother over my shoulder.

Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Nick Montfort, eds. The New Media Reader. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003. Print.

Kay, Alan and Adele Goldberg. “Personal Dynamic Media.” Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort 393-403.

Papert, Seymour. “From Mindstorms:Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas.” Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort 413-431.

Hypertext Project Blog Post 2

        I will be using Google Sites to construct my Hypertext Project. I searched “easiest free software for constructing a web site,” and got recommendations for a gazillion soft ware applications. The trouble is that FREE on the internet isn’t always free, and usually involves a trial period that must be canceled or you will be charged. Google Sites seems so easy and convenient in comparison, accessible through my email account.

        Although I have blogs on both WordPress and Blogger, I have no experience creating a web site, so I thought it would be helpful to first define some terms:

  • A blog– is defined on I’d Rather be Writing as “individually authored mini-magazines or journals where one author (or sometimes a small authoring group) crank out article after article (or entry after entry) usually with a common theme.”
  • The same blog site defines a wiki as “a platform for groups to collaborate on an information project, such as documentation, technical specs, or other reference material (e.g., Wikipedia). One author isn’t just cranking out all the information.”
  • According to Answers.com, “the difference between a wiki and a web site is that “Web page is a document connected to the World Wide Web and viewable by anyone. But, a wiki is a server program that allows [designated] users to collaborate in forming the content of a Web site.

It’s interesting that authorship is what defines these terms, whereas audience is usually the primary concern of writers.

       I will be accessing the software for this project on my home, desktop computer.

Hypertext Project Blog 1 Learning C.R.A.P: Building a Class Website

Hypertext Project Blog 1      

Learning C.R.A.P: Building a Class Website

I will be creating a class website for my hypertext project. My goal is for it to be clean and functional, but also “approachable.” My audience is undergraduate writing students learning about multimedia text construction, so I want to model the C.R.A.P. principles from the very start. I’ll begin right now by incorporating what I learned from watching the C.R.A.P. links into my Hypertext Project blogs. Hopefully, my audience (in this case, you) will notice that my font choice for this blog is my first step to mimic the modeling process I hope to project on my site.

I know that there will be a broad range of technological expertise in my proposed audience; therefore, it’s important that my website feels approachable and inclusive. I would like to accomplish this while projecting my own personal style which I see as naturalistic as well as minimalist. These possibly diverse goals may be a challenge to blend.

For simplicity’s sake, I plan on using a two-column layout with high contrast in calming colors, maybe gold and blue. I would like to find a representative image that connects nature and technology; an image of someone using a laptop in a tree would be cool (and approachable). Has anyone noticed a change in Compfight? Every Creative Commons  search I did turned up zero images. I never had this problem until recently. I may try some different image search sites if I keep turning up empty-handed.

Student Blog Responses

I commented on Susan Patterson’s blog.

I commented on Tim Norton’s blog.

Response to McLuhan

“The Galaxy Reconfigured: or the Plight of Mass Man in an Individualist Society” by Marshall McLuhan , describes how looking back in retrospect is necessary to fully grasp the phenomena of cultural change that takes place at the dawn of a new technology or thought process. He explains how change takes place slowly, like a

outer space exploding

cc image posted at Flicker by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Cente

type of societal mass hypnosis that claims “one sense at a time” (199).  Society is both observer and participant in the transformation because change can’t take place without its acceptance. The masses are swept along unwittingly, while “a very few people [ ] furnish the public with all the thought and reason possessed by the vast multitudes” (196). Mcluhan compares the magnitude of the creation of electronic technology to that of the Gutenberg printing press in its ability to change societies. Whereas the printing press moved the world from oral to written mass communication, likewise, new media created a shift from print text to electronic text. Once perceptions begin to change, McLuhan says, it’s impossible to return to the previous state of awareness because the change is, at first, so subtle we don’t recognize it until past the point of no return. In his article “The Medium is the message,” (Here’s the complete lecture).
McLuhan expands on the idea that “indeed, it is only too typical that the ‘content’ of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium” (203). Electricity is just such a medium, he says; Its presence is so pervasive that we no longer recognize it as the medium (of instantaneous light, for instance). That’s the way most users of the computer view computer technology; we just flip a switch and things happen. We don’t realize how that simple act has changed us. But, we aren’t just mindless consumers are we? The fact that I’m writing this blog and you’re reading it makes Baudrillard’s point that independence breeds subversiveness (287). When we read blogs written by average people from all over the world we are a part of the information revolution.

Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Nick Montfort, eds. The New Media Reader. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003. Print.

McLuhan, Marshal. “The Galaxy Reconfigured: or the Plight of Mass Man in an Individualist Society.” Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort 194-202.

McLuhan, Marshal. “The Medium is the Message.” Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort 203-209.

Baudrillard, Jean. “Requiem for the Media.” Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort 278-288.

Video Project: The Sound and the Fury

Here is my completed video.

Reflections on the creation of my video project:

This is my first attempt at making a still-image video with background music.  It took many hours to complete because I was totally engrossed in searching for tutorials, downloading images, and listening to lots of great original music as part of the process. I used an older version of Windows Movie Maker that came with my computer years ago. This presented a problem, as I wasn’t able to work on it in class or get peer feedback.  Finding tutorials for my old program was nearly impossible, but I could usually figure out what I needed to accomplish from tutorials of newer versions.

The assignment was to create a short, video advertisement for a book. I chose William Faulkner’s 1929 classic novel The Sound and the Fury. The novel is written in a stream of consciousness style which moves the story quickly along a very non-linear path.  My audience is comprised of readers who began the novel once before and were scared off by the often confusing time-line and prose. By focusing on Caddy, a main character who never tells her own story, I hope to narrow the novel’s focus long enough to capture the attention of those readers once again.

I began the pre-production process by brainstorming descriptions of novel’s characters that I wanted to portray in my video. Next, I narrowed my choices of characters down to three; Caddy, Benjy, and Quentin. Then I paraphrased the plot of the novel as tightly as I could. Finally, I wrote a script of single sentences that I could include on my slides. Ultimately, however, I let the images speak for themselves as much as possible.

The tone of the novel is one of economic, moral, and familial doom.  I see it as being portrayed on video as cold, gray, and lost in the past, just like many of the characters. I used Creative Commons images of some beautiful cemetery statuary that I downloaded onto Flicker from Compfight. I followed Creative Commons’ guidelines for citing images that I shared.   I imported my images to PowerPoint where I was able to write text onto the images. I made a few text- only slides, using PowerPoint’s “Apex” template, that has a slash of light running through it. This effect helped recreate the silent movie feel I was attempting to mimic. I used four different fonts for the text; AR Decode, an elegant, undulating script, to express a personal, conversational tone (like telling a secret); Book Antiqua for a newspaper effect; Elizabethan Script, a simple rounded script, for Caddy’s signature on the young girl statue; and Baskerville Old Type for the text on the ornate iron fences. Maybe for my next attempt, I’ll create my own font out of ice cream sticks, like Jeanne Verdoux (New Media Design 43). Luckily, I found a tutorial explaining how to upload a PowerPoint presentation as individual slides on Movie Maker.  The trick was to change the format to a PNG (Portable Network Graphic) file where it says, “save as type.”

Once I had uploaded my PowerPoint images to Movie Maker and dragged them into the time line, I chose the special effects for each one. The drop-down menu at the top is easy to navigate for including special effects and transitions:

  • For all of the text-only slides, I used the Old Age Film effect which I further distorted by using the Brightness Increase effect.
  • For the edited images, I used the Film Grain effect to make them look like old photos.
  •  I used the Pan Out/Zoom In effects liberally throughout to give the effect of visual story progression.

I used several different transitions to serve my purpose:

  • The simple Fade transition worked best on several slides.
  • An interesting transition I used to simulate Benjy’s confused state of mind was the Spin. I used this transition to spin the previous image into the hands of the little girl holding the leaf.
  •  I used the Circle transition for both the fence images to mirror circles in the iron fence.
  • I used the Diagonal, Down Right transition because it perfectly meshed with the Brightness Increase effect I used on my text-only slides.
  •  The Wipe Normal Right transition worked well for the young woman image with text that was presented in two columns.
  •  I used the Reveal Down transition on the path through trees image to move the eye down from the text to the detail of the image.
  • Finally, I used the Dissolve transition to move into my citation credits slide.

The most difficult part of the project was choosing and synchronizing the background music.  In a silent video, the music is equally as important as the images. I found the track I used on Free MusicArchive.org. I tried several searches to get an olde-tyme, southern feel that echoed the era of the novel,1929. Then I easily uploaded it to Movie Maker using the Upload Media option. I had some difficulty timing the music to the images until I expanded the timeline out far enough (just click on the + or -) to be able to fine tune it. I chose to continue the music in black-out for several seconds at the end to emphasize the demise of the Compton family . I was pleased with the result.

I enjoyed making my video and learned a lot in the process. I will definitely be making more videos, hopefully with a newer program. I’m encouraged too, that once one has the tools, like Jeanne Verdoux says, creativity basically involves the “eyes and mind to observe the world we live in. . . [then] using technology to concretize my ideas” (43). Rereading her description of the creative process (pen, paper, and hundreds of storyboard images) reminds me of how impatient I can be when working on even a simple computer design project consisting of twelve static images. Next time I would like to experiment with movement in my video project that, as Tricia Austin and Richard Doust explain, “unfolds over time and allows the designer to play with rhythm, pace, and narrative” for a stronger emotional impact (45). Time, or the lack of it, is the key word at this phase of my studies, and I would have to argue with Lev Manovich on his insistance that computers are a fast and efficient method of digitally drafting complicated compositions (21).  But, I will admit that I’ve certainly created something beyond my “unaugmented human intellect.”

Austin, Tricia. and Richard Doust. New Media Design. London:Laurence King, 2007. Print.

Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. 1st Vintage International Edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.

Manovich, Lev. “New Media from Borges to HTML.” 13-25. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, eds. The New Media Reader. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003. Print.