October 2008 Archives

Krug's Last Stand

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Chapters 9-11 proved to be somewhat of a wrap up. Although the whole book basically had to do with usability testing, I felt that these three chapters focused on usability the most.

Chapter 9 had to do with avoiding exspensive ways of doing usability tests. This would definitely be helpful if I was creating an actual important website. The more you "get up there" with the big dogs, the more you are probably going to spend on testing. I like the fact that even though Krug is a usability tester himself -and people hire him to look at their sites- he still shares this information of not having to pay all you have left for some testing equipment and testers. He calls his deal the "lost our lease, going-out-of-business sale usability testing. It is the concept of not having to spend more than $50 on the whole ordeal. He suggests using regular people, a few simple equipment tools, and doing only 3-5 tests. This sounds like a much easier route to take. I think its also smart to use regular joes because those are the people who are going to be checking out your site; not just already well-informed people.

I liked chapter 10 because I could relate to the levels of goodwill. It's pretty simple. When you want something you should be able to find it pretty easily if you do enough searching; especially if it's a significant event or news story like the example Krug provided of the airline strike. A website should cater to everyone's needs, so why try to hide it as Krug points out that some sites do. (hiding the call info number, or prices on inventory) Users like things that are easily accessible with just the right amount of information to let them know whats going on...... Actually, just typing that sentence made me realize that, that is a really hard task. How can you please everyone?? We are a culture that wants and needs constantly and when we don't get it right away we complain. This bothers me.

And last but not least, accessibility testing! Okay so apparantly I must be living under a rock because the number 508 didn't ring a bell for me when I first read it. The footnote at the bottom reminded me that its part of the Rehabilitation Act that specifies that all technology must be accessible to people with disabilities. According to Krug, this is a struggle for a lot of web designers and users. It goes back to the idea that a website should cater to everyone's needs. This includes, blind, deaf, learning disabled, mental, emotion, etc. individuals. I can see how designers could easily forget or just not bother to include specifications for all those people because it may skew the presentation of their site. This means more work for them too and that's no motivation. So how do we go about solving this problem? There really isn't one solution for this but I guess that is why there is usability and accessibility testing! It's important to have people pick out the difficulites they had (be it people with disabilities and those without) and then just keep fixing the little mistakes to make the big picture more understandable.

EL236

 

I Killed James!

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Slouching Towards Bedlam was an intricate game. I found it rather difficult. With the knowledge I had going into it-from what we talked about in class and from reading reviews on it- I felt that this would be a game that I could enjoy, much like Galatea and other story-like IF games. It's not that I did not enjoy it, it just wasn't very satisfying. I got that frustrated, first time user, feeling when I played it. I usually have a problem with verb usage in every game that I've played so far but only in the beginning. I pick up on it quickly as the game starts rolling.

I didn't feel any rolling in this game. It was slow because you are limited to certain rooms around you and a carriage cab that I could not get to take me anywhere, or converse with the cab driver for that matter. I examined all the rooms that I walked to and found there was nothing really you could take for inventory. The only thing that I could make sense out of the story was the blurbs of words that the Dr. would think in his head kind of randomly. This helped me to figure out that he was in some kind of mental hospital and he is going crazy (and he does not like the cold). I guess he used to be a pretty smart guy who helped a lot of people but then became this person to be feared and constantly watched.

As the game progressed I decided to do something terrible to add some excitement. I killed Jame the nervous, weird, desk attendant. The character did so with a white paper ivory knife and it was a pretty descriptive act. Weirdly that was my favorite part. The Dr. didn't know what to do and a stroy kind of later came out of the killing. It hinted that maybe this wasn't the first time the Dr. had killed someone and he frantically wanted to get away but it appears he is kind of trapped in this hospital-as a player I felt that way too.

After the killing, the game kind of dropped off and ended. It gave me a long description of the aftermath of the killing and a little more history on the Dr. but I never really did find out his story or his seceret that was mentioned in the opening of the game. This kind of put me off, even after an hour of the game and I didn't really feel like playing anymore.

I'm not sure if I like this style of an IF game or if I like a more interactive one with more choices but now I think I have a better feel for the style.

EL236

Krug Ch 7- Home sweet...home?

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Krug hits on a lot of good points that are key in a home page. The home page is the most visited page in any website. It's like the cover of a book. People say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but... everyone does it! Okay maybe not everyone, but I certainly do, and I'm not afraid to admit it- the same that I don't feel bad judging a website by its home page. If I enter a site and can't tell what it is about or don't know where to start, I'm probably going to go right back to my google search or to whatever I was doing before.

This is why home pages have to be eye catching! There are so many websites out there that serve similar purposes that the first page you visit should explain why this is the best site for your purpose.

Again with the book analogy- if I am in a library, there are so many books in that library on the same subject that even a cover page or the introduction page should make me want to read that book over the others.

I think Krug does a good job explaining this importance.

Home pages can sometimes be too overwhelming which is rather annoying. I like a simple, easy to read, easy to use page with a few links that are actually useful; not just placed there for extra space. Another thing about space that was mentioned in the chapter was about not using too much of the page or too little. This is kind of an obvious concept but I have to say that I have run into several websites lately where the home page takes up half a page and the rest of the page is floating space. This isn't very easy on the eye if you ask me (Pitt's website is one that I can think of).

Another point that I feel is noteworthy in my experiences is the idea of pulldowns. As Krug says, they "create space" for the designer but in reality, they are not very user-friendly. The reason I am pointing this piece out is because I did my usability testing assignment before I read this chapter. Krug even points out that the "drawbacks of pulldowns outweigh the potential benefits." I saw this frustration with my usability testers when they were purchasing a pair of shoes online and had to put in a shoe size. The pulldown bar was not very prominent; both struggled with where to put this information if anywhere. Another pulldown that was tricky was the "find a store" locator button on the Wal-Mart website. You think you need to click on the words but when you mouse over it, a pulldown screen briefly appears. This is bothersome because if you move your mouse only slightly away from the words, the pulldown bar disappears. I think Krug calls it "twitchy".

I think this chapter pointed out some good tips on how to make a home page worth someone's while. Also, once again, the author can show examples of good and bad homepages which is very useful to see. I found it interesting that even professional web designers can learn from their mistakes and constantly revise/update their home pages or entire website.

EL236

Krug Ch 6 pack a lunch!

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So Krug was right.. this was a long chapter (and I did eat my lunch and take a few breaks in the process). But after I read the first 20 or so pages out of the 42, I realized that I didn't actually need to read everything word for word. A lot of the key concepts that he wanted to express were pretty apparant judging by the bolded words and one sentence explainations. These were the things I started to focus on. Also the use of the picture examples made it easier to envision what is was he was actually talking about. It made me feel as though I was kind of walking with him through a website.

By using this scan/read the important stuff method, the reading went by smoothly. And the content was mostly common sense at least to frequent web users. 

I'm not going to reiterate every lesson that Krug taught in this chapter because I know my peers have read it too. So the main thing I basically got out of this chapter is consistency. Consistency in:

  • a navigation system
  • decision making (not just giving up right away but trying different options)
  • Links that show a different color when you have clicked on it
  • A search bar (making it easy to search for something by avoiding fancy words)
  • 'You are Here' pointers (so the user can make sure they know where to go from here)
  • Tabs (He definitely stressed the good style of tabs and their easy navigational system)
  • A home page (The user should always know how to get back to this page to start over)
  • Site ID (whether this is a picture or word or logo; something recognizable)
  • Large, Bold words (mainly that have to do with where you are within the site)
  • A title on the page you are viewing
  • The entire website (what can I say, it needs to be consistent!)

 

I really liked the activities on the last 4 or 5 pages provided in the book. It allowed readers to put all of the chapters important ideas into practice; that is being able to spot the good and the bad, the right and the wrong in a website. By being able to see actual websites and if they contain a site ID, a title, a home page, sections and subdivisions, etc I was able to have a clearer understanding of how and why it is a good idea to put those things (listed above) in there. And now I won't feel bad if I steal an idea off of a good website because I learned that it is better to stick with common themes of other sites so people can recognize things better.

One other thing that I got from this reading is that now, when I look at websites, I can tell what a good one and a not-so-good one look like. Period.

Here are two websites that I looked up on my own and did the tests.

Good: http://www.nike.com/nikeos/p/nike/en_US/ 

Not-so-good: http://www.angelfire.com/super/badwebs/  (okay so this is a little obnoxious, but funny! And it gets the point across)

EL236 

Krug 4&5

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Chapter 4 of Krug's book, Don't Make me Think, is all about making mindless choices. This means that when we are faced with a decision to click to different links on a web page, the user should know exactly which one will cater to their wants and needs. Everyone on the internet is looking for answers. Krug is implying that the steps along the way to reaching those answers, should be relatively painless/easy. As for having to click things repeatedly to confirm that, yes that is the link I want and yes I hope it will give me the right information, I do not want to spend too much time on the clicking process. Krug makes this point when he mentions that, "In general, I think its safe to say that users don't mind alot of clicks as long as each click is painless and they have continued confidence that they're on the right track..." This is true in my experience but kind of do mind a lot of clicks...

Chapter 5 contains the important lessons of omitting what I like to call "fluff" from web page, getting rid of "happy talk" (also pretty much fluff or bullshit) and that nobody likes intructions! So true... to all of these concepts! I never read instructions unless they are 3 numbers long and 5 words or less. I do have to admit that I tend to be a fluffer so to speak and add some unneccesaary happy talk in my writing but somtimes I think that adds character to the subjecy content, especially if its a boring one. But I can see how it needs to be lessened or basically cleared out of websites because readers do not read that stuff. They want to know the who, what, when, where, and why; which is completely understandable.

So these two chapters have hit on two subjects that I am aware of but once again, I like the way that Krug puts these theories. He makes me want to read them and think, hey maybe I didn't know this or well, thats a good point. It is also different because it only pertains to websites as opposed to any other kind of writing style where these ideas still apply, but to different lengths. 

 

Krug: Intro-3

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When I first read the Krug readings, I thought that author basically hit Web usability concepts on the nose. I found these readings very easy to read. In fact, a lot of the ideas and tips that he expressed were used in the book. The subjects were clear and straight forward, the text was broken up which included images to make things easier to understand.

I liked how the author was personal in the intro. He expressed his experience with watching users surf the web but made it clear that as a designer, you don't have to have a professional looking over your shoulder telling you what not to do. Creating web pages is all about being creative and using your experiences on the web and putting that into your page so people don't have the same problems that you have run into before. However, he mentions sticking with certain styles and themes in websites; like headings at the top of a newspaper, linking things in the same general place as to not confuse browsers. 

I like his concept of making things simple. It's so true that as designers, we think that viewers will read and notice every detail on a site. But.. as a user, we don't. We scan for the things that we want and need and click on a few things until we get what we want. That's actually pretty sad considering how much work some designers put into some web pages. So it is good to stick with simple so you can spare yourself some time and frustration! I like it when I can easily navigate through a site and know when a link is a link and how to search for something.
One side note: I thought the bit about how some users put in URL's into Yahoo search engines and expect to get to the website immediately, was pretty amusing. No offense to people who have done that before but mixing up the yahoo search tab with the actual internet URL bar is a beginner's mistake.

As for the muddling through pages, I have to say that I'm not really a muddler. I push through the rough spots and stick with it usually. However, thanks to google, it is easy to press the back button and look for another site that has similar information. 

This book kind of reminds me of some of the same concepts discussed in the Kilian readings. I'm seeing some common themes here but I suppose that they will be stuck in my head when I'm viewing and creating web pages. I do like the layout of the book. Krug makes it easy to follow his thoughts and I like that he expresses them in honesty.

The IF Experience

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My experience with these interactive games was interesting. I liked some of them but got frustrated sometimes. This was a new experience and it actually reminded me of instant messanging.

There are computer response screennames that are there for specific reasons to help im-ers. Some of them include features like movie theater information, smart talkers which you can basically ask about anything, and other various categories. Back in middle school, I used to "experiment" with them and see how they would respond to silly questions or even inappropriate ones. It was a good laugh because often times the reponses would be similiar to the ones I got in this test run, like: I do not know that response, or what? lol.

I did the games that did not require any downloading. Lost Pig, Galatea, and Photopia. I liked Lost Pig the best. The language they used was funny and entertaining; Grunk the dumb farm hick. It was the most exciting I think and it made me want to find the pig!

Galatea was a little on the frustrating side. I enjoyed reading her paragraph long responses but asking questions was tough at first. Then once I actually went back and read the directions again I realized what I needed to say to get a response out of her. Her story was interesting.

Photopia was my least favorite. It was hard to figure out also. I didn't really get the concept of the story or game. It was confusing and honestly I didn't spend too much time on it.

So I had fun trying out these games but I don't think I could spend more than an hour playing them.

The Art of Computer Gaming

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Wow, who knew that computer games were invented even before graphics were able to be on copmuter? Not I! But I learned that from using the a method of interactive fiction, viewers can still have a good time.

The concept of being able to type commands to a computer and then getting a response back probably doesn't seem like that big of a deal to this generation of computer-gamers. We get to see everything we do and have a variety of options in interactive games. The game Adventureland by Scott Adams was I guess what started it all; what made some of the games we have today, available.

"Your mind gives a much better picture than the finest artist."

I think people forget that being able to see everything isn't always an advantage. Like in movies, I hate it when the actors/actresses seem something remorseful or scary and everyone wants to see what it is and the movie directly pans over to the thing they are looking at and the suspense is gone.... Anticipation is much more intriguing. In the movie if the actors would have described it and used words to put a picture in your head, each person's image would be different. This is the concept Adams was describing in his audience interaction speech.

Another concept that stuck out to me was the fact that he stated, "If you guys ever get out into the world and you are doing something creative like this, making entertainment for people, don't design the whole thing yourself. Let the people you plan to use it do some of the design." This of course reminded me of the hypertext literature pieces our EL236 class has been studying. They display a perfect example of letting your audience help to tell the story. The literature is all interactive and by clicking on links or pictures, you get more pieces of the puzzle but they are different everytime. So essentially, you can create a different story every time you click.

Although I dont know much about computer programming and I do not really play video games, I'm glad they were invented. From the perspective of the one doing the creating, I can respect and support the efforts to make non-violent, family interactive games

.

 

 

Portfolio 2-Moving On...

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Portfolio 2: Anne Williams- sophomre-Journalism major

This is portfolio number two for me. It is similar to portfoilio one because it is compose of more recent blogs that I have written throughout this semester. We are required to have blogs that fit certain categories, like:

  • coverage
  • timeliness
  • interaction
  • depth
  • discussion

These blogs are written for my Writing for the Internet class, taught by Dr. Jerz. This portfolio focuses on styles of writing on the internet, such as creative hypertext stories and readings from the book Writing for the Web 3.0 by Crawford kilian. In a sense we are moving on from one genre of Web writing, to another. I am learning as I go.

There are a few things that are different about this portfolio. One thing is the richness of my essays. I think now I know how much to blog and what all to include for each assignment. 

I have gotten more into the habit of commenting on my classmates blogs and responding to the ones on my own. Although I could do more commenting, sometimes I don't want to comment on every blog subject. Sometimes I view my peer's blogs as examples instead of going in depth with a couple. This is something I could make more time for.

As far as timeliness goes, I have gotten all the major blogs and activities in on time, but there were a few (some Kilian readings) that I fell behind on.

Moving on, here are my most recent and noteworthy blogs from the second half of this semester.

Coverage- this shows that I am able to write a response to a reading we had for class and include links and passages from the text. 

Timeliness-This is pretty explanitory. It is some work that I was able to post on time onto the website. 

Interaction-These are some of my blog entries that interested people enough to comment on them.

Depth-These are usually "longer" blogs that are more essay style than short blog. It is writing in depth.

Discussion-This section has links other classmate's blogs that I have commented on and continued with in conversation.

Thank you for taking the time to look over my portfolio. Hopefully they keep getting better and I continue to keep up with this interaction, if not do more to include myself with my peers. It is one of the best ways to learn. 

Kilian Critique

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When I first started reading Crawford Kilian's book, "Writing for the Web 3.0", I had a feeling of satisfaction. The understanding came easy and the chapters were broken up nicely or at least so readers feel like the they aren't too long. Knowing ahead of time how much you have to read is a big deal to college students! It makes a world of difference to me to be able to read his book without having to question what he really meant. Now, granted the content is all factual stuff, that is pretty straight forward. But I truly think Kilian put it in a way that puts those dull, boring, "we know this already", tips into bearable terms. So thanks Kilian for making this Writing for the Internet required phase in my life a little easier. 

One reason why I liked his style of teaching/writing was the way he used examples in every day life. I think I can remember one about how his family members would exaggerate everything and he used this point to demonstrate the importance of keeping to the story and saying what is real rather than trying to make it better by over exageration.

Somehow I could kind of relate to this story so that made me able to remember what he was trying to get across in the message. A lot of this information is basic but I think the importance of starting from the beginning is crucial. Especially for beginners of internet writing like myself who are unfamiliar with the terminology and who have been typing papers on Microsoft Word all of their life. But I think this is good for even the experts to at least scan as a refresher for some tips when they need it.

Well no offense to the author (Kilian), but I don't think other writers -and by other writers I mean more experienced, out of college, have a job writers- would read this book front to back, cover to cover. I think of it almost as more of a reference book than a "How can I be a successful writer of the Web?"

With that being said, as far as another book in the future, I am all for the idea. I actually took the last book's information and ideas and applied them to my work.I kind of had to for assignments for my Writing for the Internet class, but now I can use the concepts that I picked up whenever or where-ever I write. Things like bulleted lists, not cluttering my page, using simpler words, and spreading out information to make the reading easier on the viewer, are all things that I sort of already knew but just didn't exactly apply all the time. 

But back to the new book It's time for some constructive criticism. I am not very good at picking out the negatives because I automatically focus on the good things first when I read, write, and critique. So I have to say that a lot of the information was dry. Although Kilian used examples like I mentioned before to make things interesting, sometimes it doesn't cut it. I know this is boring stuff but I think maybe by showing pictures with arrows pointing out things that are discussed in the work would be a good visual for readers. To be able to look at an example website and actually see what it is he is talking about may be helpful for visual readers. Also, having the practice modules mixed in with the chapters they apply to and then having the answers in the back to refer to, may be more beneficial. Often, readers will skip the exercises if they are too hard to find; especially on a disk. Not too many students are thrilled about the idea of having to download new software onto their computers to do a few assignments when they are already done for you in the back.

  Well that's about the extent of my input. If anyone would like to see more information on how I felt while I was reading the Kilian chapters, feel free to browse my blogs. (Got this idea from Chelsea's blog:)! )

Kilian Chapter 5

Kilian Chapter 4

A lot of information

A Long Thought Process...

Kilian Chapter 1

Audience= you, you, you, you

(This last blog would not let me copy the actual URL so I pasted it into the blog below)

Write, Create, Action (Kilian Ch 7&8)

Well, I've finished the Kilian readings and I have to say that they weren't bad. The reading,or should I say readability, was fairly easy. It helped that Kilian used several examples in explaining his theories and tips on writing for the web, as opposed to just giving the straight facts.

As a baby to the blogging world, these readings helped to open my eyes a little more. I mean, nothing beats experience and actually putting the things he writes about into action. But because he takes on a more personal and almost beginners approach to his chapters, I feel as though I can easily apply what he talks about into my own writing experiences. For example, I never knew there were different kinds of blogs. I know that you can basically write about anything you want to in your own personal blog, but I guess the thought never crossed me to use a blog for work purposes or as political or news references. This is good to know because as I branch out of my classroom blog, I may want to start a new blog type for a job or for business reasons.

One theme I noticed that is repeated in every chapter of Kilian, is to write for your readers. By this I mean focus on the style of your blogs, essays, articles, etc. Making sure to avoid long paragraphs and pages of information, attracting viewers to your site so they can experience that "jolt" and providing links for readers to interact within your webpage are all common themes expressed in most of the chapters in this book. These themes helped me to try my hand at my first resume. I used bulleted lists, provided contact information and was clear, short and promt in my descriptions. So, thanks Kilian for pounding this information in. (seriously)

The last chapter focused again on appealing to your audience through propaganda.This is very similar information that I am studying in my communications class. Manipulating, persuasion and appeal are the key concepts of being a communication professional. Although I am looking to be a journalist "professional", these concepts can be applied in pretty much anything as Kilian describes throughout the book.

Revision of Resume

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After recieving feedback and suggestions from my peers, I noticed many of them said the same things about my resume. This is nice that the areas of problem are consistent so that they are easier to fix.

First I fixed the spacing problems under the Jobs, Volunteer, and Community Work category. There were various amounts of space between the headings of my jobs and the positions. For example, Prospectors and Food service: banquet server.

I then added bulleted lists under Qualities and Specifications to break up the text and make it more eye catching. I also added bullets in a section of Goals and Prospects.

I cut out a good amount of text under Goals and Prospects because that was my biggest paragraph.

One big change I accomplished was using margins to get rid of the empty space I had at the top of my resume (beside Qualifications and Specialties). Dave showed me how to do this. It looks much better. I was considering putting a picture there but I dont want my face to be the main focus of an employer; I would rather my work be.

I added a link to my high school and I wanted to put more links on that included some noteworthy papers I wrote as a freshman but unfortunately I could not find my flash drive from last year which had all those papers saved on it...

A few last touch ups include the listing of my contact information in vertical form (going down) instead of horizontal (or straight across the screen). I also made my email a link to Outlook Express so people can email me directly.

I think I hit on everything and I hope to keep improving on my resume as long as I have it up! 

 

Carving in Possibilities- from Electronic Literature

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As I moused my way over Deena Larson's Carving in Sculptures over and over again, I found myself getting closer to some sort of conclusion. But then there comes with that sense of completion, a growing doubt. Where does this doubt come from? Why does there seem to be that feeling of starting something without finishing?

That is the way of electronic literature, or hypertext fiction. From what I read on "Is Hypertext Fiction Possible?", it notes that if you compare hypertext literature with any other written form of literature (mostly on paper), hypertext breaks some of the rules of standard literature. The well-known philosopher, Aristotle, explains that a well-constructed plot can't begin or end at any point the reader likes. From my experience with hypertext writing, I like a definite plot that has one beginning and one end to it. We find that in most of the hypertext stories, the plot and the ending are up to the reader or nowhere to be found (there is usually a beginning point at least). The article summarizes that hypertext also calls into question related concepts such as: a fixed sequence, definite beginning and ending, a stories certain definite magnitude, and the conception of unity or wholeness.

The question of the author's credibility also comes into question with hypertext literature. Many readers feel that what they are reading takes away from what the author is trying to get across because essentially they are the ones making the decisions in the stories. The authors merely give the options. Or so it seems... This issue was addressed in a link from "Is Hypertext Fiction Possible?"  in a section entitled Hypertext, Fiction, and The Link . After reading the suggested sample of nonfiction literature, "Growing up Digerate", I was able to be clued in on how authors react to this theory of "losing the author". This author, Jeff Pack, says (of hypertext literature) that, "....your being drawn by specific phrases or ideas from memory to memory, following associations my mind created." The purpose is "to ideally convey an attitude." I think as readers we are too used to a linear way of thinking that we focus too much on what the content is giving us instead of how it is being given and in what context or events. So the authors are doing this on purpose to make readers think more and get deeply involved in the text as opposed to having everything layed out for us as we like it.

As a new reader of hypertext stories, I ran into many of these situations and got frustrated. However, I also realized there are several different kinds of hypertextual interactive stories. It is not always straight text with highlighted words that tends to get hard on the eyes. Many authors use creative features like imagesvideo, and interaction to get the reader more involved.

My selection of choice, as mentioned before, is the Carving in Possibilities piece. In order for me to clasp some sort of idea from the author's use of image and interaction I had to do further research. The beginning page mentioned the statue is of David from the story David and Golliath. It is Michelangelo's sculpture of David that is known around the world. I discovered that the image of his face, which is focused on in this literary text, captures his expression before the battle of David and Golliath. In the full length picture of the sculpture you can see his slingshot slung over his shoulder in preparation for the death of Golliath. As you scroll over the image of his face the words ellude to the battle preparation. It mentions how the people were scared (as they watched the giant), "he stands poised to strike", his arm is outstreched, ready like a hero. There are many words that describe the battle preparation but the author takes another spin on the actual statue and not on David as a young boy in the time this story happened. He poses questions like, where would he be if he was not stuck in the stone? "Will the stone hold your soul for ten thousand years?" "Who do you see in the corners of your eyes?"

 It's almost as if the author is trying to get the reader to identify with David. How would you feel if you were in David's shoes during the battle, after the battle, even as a statue? David's face almost looks worried or sad. The author also poses questions as to David's existence after his years as a King and hero, warning readers to "watch where they leave their ghosts." How will you be remembered after you are gone? Will you really be gone or will your existence be made entirely of stone. Also it makes us think of David's legacy. He is still remembered today but to what extent? I think the author is really trying to show us that when we are gone, we are not just gone. Parts of us live on through words, through writing, or sculptures or other people. It is just up to us to determine that; to carve out our own identities.   

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A closer look at Michealangelo's David

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This interactive text keeps me, as a reader and viewer, coming back for more. That is exactly what an author of any kind of literary should try to do and that is how readers should end up feeling. The Carving in Possibilities text is so different from any kind of "active literature" I have ever read. I'm not even sure what to call it.

It is interesting in the fact that, there is a new story every time. As you scroll over the statue's yet-to-be-deciphered- face, words, questions, and sentences appear. They are all in the same spots so essentially you could go over the same ones to get one story. But new sentences that you have never saw before always catch your attention before you get to the one you thought you wanted. And then starts another cluster of thoughts and ideas. I can almost feel my brain working in my head on this one.

One criticism I have to make of this piece is that the words appear so quickly. Even with the slightest movement of the mouse, it changes to another set of words. Another thing I am trying to figure out is that some of the words are in certain fonts and colors. I think they may be connected in that, they link together to form one idea of the story of the sculpture. However, as many times as I tried to put these matching fonts/colors together, I usually ended up losing them and got distracted by the other words that were popping up in my process. I also don't like that you are limited to a certain number of sentences to scroll over. The sculpture builds as your mouse moves.

I am beginning to see that this work involves more research other than what is given to me. The clip in the beginning that the other provides on the story is a starting point. But I believe there is more to this that meets the eye. (literally)

 

Electronic Literature Texts Adventure

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Four Electronic Literature Texts:

RedRidinghood, The Cape, Carving in Possibilities, Self Portraits as Others 

As I was browsing the selection of Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1, I have to admit that I was "judging the books by their covers". I clicked on several of the small pictures that caught my attention the most. A lot of the ones that stuck out were colorful and animated, like the cartoon drawings. However, considering I do not have sound on my computer currently, I tried not to do any readings that incorporated sound. I also had trouble running and downloading the required interactive texts. So in the end, I think I was looking for something simple. I found four relatively easier to navigate readings to suit my technalogical problems.

Since this was a 30 minute brief on the my four choices, I can only describe my first impressions. RedRidinghood was my first choice because the title was familiar to me. I did not get to listen to it yet which plays a big part in the story and the style of the story as well. But I did like that it was animation that was like watching a movie and the story kind of plays out in front of you. You get to make decisions but its one at a time. I didn't feel overwhelmed with so many options in this one.

Cape was one of the squares I investigated later on. It didn't quite catch my attention on the first page and it was hard to understand the first time I went through the story. I like that the author suggests clicking and reading from left to right (like we are taught to do) and that he kept the pages plain but organized. There were only a few options and little information on each page but I feel as though there is more to this poem or story I suppose that meets the eye. It may just push me to find out what it's really about.

 I choose the Carving in Possibilities interactive story with a growing knowledge. I didn't know what to expect with the title and everything. The statue's face stood out to me but I didn't know how this one was going to play out. It was surprisingly awesome! It lets you mouse over a blurred picture of the same statue that is featured in the Volume Collection. As you mouse over the statue's face, sentences appear where-ever you move the mouse. The phrases don't change but the statue's face gets clearer and more defined as you make a story out of the sentences you choose. The only thing I found frustrating about this interaction (and I did it many times) was that several of the sentences were actually questions. Sometimes I felt like I didn't know enough information to answer these questions. But the more I did the activity the more I discovered.

Last but not least is the "Self Portraits as Others" piece. The thing that inspired me the most about it was the pictures of each artist. Their portrait was combined with several other artist's styles to produce a different portrayal of themselves. I really found the almost hidden feature of the scroll-over quotes and phrases that are also include in the artists portriat. I think it may be a way to define the artists after reading a little bit about them from the profiles on the side. I do have to say that the profiles were a little boring because it was a lot of text that was sometimes, uninteresting. 

Palin-Biden debate

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After reading this article on the speaking level of the two vice presidential candidates, I have one question? Why should this matter? People elect who they want as their president often based on their performances during public speaking invites like debates. So as intelligent and informed citizens (as we all should be), you can usually figure out who the better speaker is and who you can understand the most. Yes, we have to recognize that politicians, especially under the circumstances of a debate are going to use larger words and long sentences to baffle their opponent. But would you rather them address America as they would address their spouse at home? Or a daughter or son?

It would be pretty bad if a candidate spoke to America in informal ways but I would rather be able to understand the speaker and in a way be able to relate to what they were saying. In the vice presidential debate I felt that Palin was trying too hard to be smarter than Biden by making  things hard to understand. It caused her to slip up on a couple of occassions. Biden also used some terms that were unclear but he seemed to be speaking in a more natural state.

Either way I dont think statistics on speaking levels are going to sway my decision or change my opinion. I think that if someone can speak to an audience so that when every one walks out they are able to remember and repeat the key points that speaker made, then that truly shows they are a good speaker. So many people have different learning and understanding levels that to be able to basically assure that everyone was able to understand your speech is a great skill to have. 

The Body

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"It seemed my body could do anything I wanted it to. How much I dared was the only question."

I relate this particular active hypertext to a journal rather than a story. The woman in the story, being the author, uses her artwork to tell her story.

I found this method to be more attention-grabbing. Being able to see images that are links on that particular subject is easier to navigate through than just reading straight through pages of words. It seems to break it up more.

As for this woman's story, I find her confindence to put all of her personal information out there, repectable. For many women, the thought of discussing such subjects as their vagina or their sexuality or even the way they feel about their bodies is a struggle, especially to unknown people. They way the author is so blunt about her private matters made me realize that I can secretly relate to some of the experiences she went through growing up. Change is something that this woman fears. Going through puberty is a scary thing for many girls and she hit it right on the nose by describing the first day she knew she got breasts and relating that to the painful experience with her mother at the "bra" store. I can see many women readers smiling to themselves when they think about those days.

This woman is different, but she is not afraid to make that known. I get the feeling that she wants to be different. Even in middle and high school when there was pressure from other girls to look a certain way, she never tried to change her body to fit that conformity. She was the sweaty, oversized, rough girl/boy that no one took the chance to know. One thing that stuck out to me that I could relate with was her excitement at doing the most chin-ups. I used to love the attention I would get from the boys if I could do more chin-ups than the rest of the girls. And it wasn't because I liked the boys, I mean this was elementary school. It was the fact that I was like them. This woman felt more comfortable doing male things and looking more like a male than a female. I just went through a tomboy stage, as they call it.

The author's willingness to be so open in this particular piece may help other woman who go through the same battles with their bodies and minds, to know that it is ok to feel the way they do. This woman is proud of her scars, her tough feet, her masculine shoulders and back, the way her breasts are shaped. She finds a way to personalize with every aspect of her body and make it her own. This is an envious quality because so many times, woman are so critical of what they have. Society tries to find ways to fit every woman into the size, look, and feel of whatever they desire. That would be nice but it is unrealistic. Even if we can change some things about ourselves, it is how we end up feeling that makes that change truly worth it.

The author, in her story, was not always happy with the way she looked and the way things were changing, but she learned to embrace her assets and create a story to share by using her body (hence the diagram in the beginning).

I was not so quick to judge this hypertext reading because the picture intrigued me. Because it was written in a way that made it feel like I was being told the author's life story, Shelly Jackson's "The Body" maintained my interest and provoked thoughts and memories about how I feel about the parts of my body.

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The University of Yellow Wallpaper

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My inital reaction to this piece of hypertext literature was a feeling of dread. That was due to the fact that I knew it was a hypertext story which meant it would be long and confusing. It would have been more confusing to me too had it not been for the title and the references to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper".

The Title of the piece did not ring a bell for me right away until I entered the first page of the website where the link stood to enter the story. It is a picture of a small, yellow square with the title written in different forms. It is suppose to resemble the wallpaper the woman in the story sees. It eventually drives her crazy but she is there already because she is mentally sick. I read "The Yellow Wallpaper" my senior year in high school in an AP English class. The story is mind boggling. You are never truly sure how sick the woman is, where she is, and how she got there. The readers just know she hates the wallpaper in her room; same as the character in this story. So I am thinking of this story as a modern play off of the original "Yellow Wallpaper." C.E White, the author, alludes to this when she states, " It pleases me to ponder this message, I know, it pleases me to think I am communicating with her, this unknown woman..."

One recurring theme that I noticed throughout the story, besides the references to "The Yellow Wallpaper", was the characters mentioning of her appearance and body. She often mentioned looking through looking glasses and mirrors to see her image or to see nothing there at all. She is obviously very confused about who she is. She also makes references to her childhood and when you click on the first couple of links there is an image of a child from the waist up. Sometimes she may think she is still a child. For example, she mentions how she sucks her thumb and how the soliders come up to her and pinch her cheeks. However she says "sucking your thumb which makes me believe she sees herself as two people; the girl she was in childhood and the woman she is now. Many times she uses the word "us" to convince readers that she is in some way, living two lives.

As a reader you get a inside glimpse of her childhood when she talks about how her mother left her at the market and how she was too weak to take care of her children because she did not eat. I got the feeling her mother was a good person though and tried to take care of her children. The woman does not want to leave her mother. She does not want to be sent away. The University of Yellow Wallpaper is most likely some sort of psychiatric ward where she could recover. It seems like her childhood is what caused her to be so disoriented and confused.

The author uses violent imagery in some of the descriptions.

"I could feel someone watching me, someone soften onto my legs, groping for my heart and sucking. I promptly threw myself out of bed, opening the door, and precipitated myself towards class, but the rose bushes were waiting and my dress was no protection against the lash of their thorns that slashed me to bits, bleeding, my naked feet flayed by stones, scratched by thistles, stung by nettles and slipping all the time and time before on unknown objects, I crossed the threshold and entered the building..." 

One reason for these images may be because she had a violent childhood with her mother (which may also explain the distorted image of the infant picture earlier on in the text).

Another interesting motif that was used throughout the story was her goal to get to "class" where she would "take notes for the final time". I wasn't sure of what was meant by the latter statement, however I think the references apply to the title of the story. She could be or could have been at some sort of school or university and she is just imagining she is still there or remembering times when she was there. These are when the violent terms also come up which the author probably put their on purpose. The woman may have wanted to go to school but it is a painful road there. Just as in this story and "The Yellow Wallpaper," the character is not allowed to right but it helps her to calm her night tremors. Writing is her release. The only thing distracting her is the wallpaper. In "The Yellow Wallpaper", the woman sees another woman (herself) in the paper, trying to get out. And in this paper the woman sees herself in two different images as well.

Going back to my initial reaction after having to "close read" and analyize the story, I still found this story hard to connect with. I literally had to write out notes on the story so I could remember certain things without having to find my way back to a page. The only thing I felt I had to go off of was my knowledge of the "Yellow Wallpaper" short story. However, I see these hypertext stories as a way of almost being able to express yourself, as an author or writer, in a different way. It is not the conventional page 1 to page 20 story. It is more like many thoughts within one big idea. -

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Kilian exercises 4 & 5

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exercise 4. I wasn't sure how to do the whole readability thing so I basically re-worded some sentences and and dropped a lot of repeated words and useless phrases.

 

 

Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can Do Really Well, Teach!

               [Word count: 520, Fog Index: 7.7] new word count: 440

If you're graduating this June, you're probably not thinking much beyond this summer: a job, some travel, going back to college, etc.

         If you're going on to Graduate school next September, expect to be shocked. Your teachers are likely to be older than your parents. If you go into a vocational or trades program, the same is likely to be true.

         Forty years ago, the schools were caught in a tidal wave called the baby boom. A huge mass of kids (your parents) were moving through the system, and the schools were desperate to find teachers for them. A whole generation, born in the late 1930s and early 1940s found that schools were always hiring. Teaching was "what you can always fall back on," they used to say.

         The teachers hired in the 1960s and 70s are retiring now. We don't have a baby boom, but we do have an economy that needs lots of educated workers. So as old teachers retire, the system will need new ones -- not just science, English and history teachers, but ones who are skilled in many areas as well.

         A recent BC survey predicts that in the next few years we'll need 40,000 new workers in the natural and applied sciences. 90,000 jobs will be waiting for people in trades, transportation, and equipment operation. Sales and service will need 180,000 new workers.

        Other high-growth job fields include everything from graphic design, to nursing, to management in accommodation, food, and retail. This good timing will allow job opportunities straight out of college.

         But think about your choices. With so many jobs, you might as well pick a field you really enjoy. Train for sales or management. With visual skills you can  learn graphic design and multimedia. Love your car? Learn an automotive trade. No matter what you choose, some employer will be out there waiting to pay you to have fun.

         That's not all. With employers fighting to hire the next generation of skilled workers, demand will be high for still more workers. Colleges, universities, and vocational schools will be fighting also to find qualified people to teach everything from law to Chinese cooking.

         If you can do, teach! As a newly qualified employee, you'll be familiar with current practices and technology. You can teach part time, and participate in teacher-training programs. You'll be able to train people who may be working alongside you, so you can make sure they learn what the qualifications.

         So pay attention to those older teachers in your courses next year. You may be stepping into their jobs before you know it.

It's Your Choice

               [Word count: 500, Fog Index: 9.3] new word count: 332

It's your first day on the job. As a first task, your boss hands you a check for $735,800.

         "Tear it up," he says.

         That is what you would be doing if you did not complete grades k-12. According to statistics in Canada, the average income in 2001 was $25,671 for British Columbians completing grade 12 and a few post-secondary courses. Over a 40-year working life, that means you'd make just over $1 million.

         But if you go into the workforce with a university degree, your lifetime income will average $735,800 more.

         If you skip post-secondary, you will be losing money and most likely working a job you are not happy with. The more education you have, the more choices you have. So how do you maximize your choices as you leave high school?

         Start by going from grade 12 into academic post-secondary courses. That gives you three choices: continue at university, switch to a career program after a year or two, or find a job with the option of returning to school later. Suppose you decide after academic courses that you want some practical job training. Many college career programs now require 1-2 years of academic coursework before they'll even consider you. You would have more programs to choose from and a better chance to be accepted. If you take your academic courses in college, you can transfer to university -- and you'll have saved money by taking two years at lower tuition fees.

         But what if you settle for a college diploma in some career field? StatsCan says your average income will be about $33,000. That's less than you'd get with a BA. Many career programs now offer degrees as well, in fields like business administration and tourism management which provide more choices.

         Sometimes we don't have all the choices we'd like but if you think about what you want to do with your life, you'll realize you do have some options.

Exercise 5 (corporate websites)

https://www.bankofamerica.com/index.jsp

This website was Bank of America. It's a small homepage with small writing and everything is kind of pushed together in a minimal amount of amount space. The left side is where all the navigation and words are, leaving the right side mostly open and blank. The website is obviously targeted towards people who are members of Bank of America or to anyone who wants to know more about it. There are several links to different options, almost too many in my opinion, making it look cramped. However, I dont think this is a website that is meant to be appealing to viewers. It is mainly for business purposes.

 

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/index

This site was fairly easy to navigate through. The navigation system was at the top. The pages are full of animation, colors, sound, and videos. It makes going to Disney World an attractive trip. It provides useful links such as resort options and maps. This site can also be targeted towards kids because they can click on fun links like characters and read about their favorite Disney characters and play games. The only downfall of this website is that some of the pages have too much on them, such as pictures and floating animation, that it becomes consuming and overwhelming.

 

 http://www.fedex.com/us/

The Fedex website made you enter your country before going into the actual page. This is smart because then it can destinguish the language that the site will be in. In the main page there is again a place to log in if you have an account created. Here you can track a package or even ship something out from the website. The page is also pretty scrunched with smaller words, similar to the Bank of America website. There is no scroll bar and the right side of the page is mostly blank. 

 

 

 

 

Write, Create, Action (Kilian Ch 7&8)

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Well, I've finished the Kilian readings and I have to say that they weren't bad. The reading,or should I say readability, was fairly easy. It helped that Kilian used several examples in explaining his theories and tips on writing for the web, as opposed to just giving the straight facts.

As a baby to the blogging world, these readings helped to open my eyes a little more. I mean, nothing beats experience and actually putting the things he writes about into action. But because he takes on a more personal and almost beginners approach to his chapters, I feel as though I can easily apply what he talks about into my own writing experiences. For example, I never knew there were different kinds of blogs. I know that you can basically write about anything you want to in your own personal blog, but I guess the thought never crossed me to use a blog for work purposes or as political or news references. This is good to know because as I branch out of my classroom blog, I may want to start a new blog type for a job or for business reasons.

One theme I noticed that is repeated in every chapter of Kilian, is to write for your readers. By this I mean focus on the style of your blogs, essays, articles, etc. Making sure to avoid long paragraphs and pages of information, attracting viewers to your site so they can experience that "jolt" and providing links for readers to interact within your webpage are all common themes expressed in most of the chapters in this book. These themes helped me to try my hand at my first resume. I used bulleted lists, provided contact information and was clear, short and promt in my descriptions. So, thanks Kilian for pounding this information in. (seriously)

The last chapter focused again on appealing to your audience through propaganda.This is very similar information that I am studying in my communications class. Manipulating, persuasion and appeal are the key concepts of being a communication professional. Although I am looking to be a journalist "professional", these concepts can be applied in pretty much anything as Kilian describes throughout the book.

EL236

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