Jerz: Writing for the Internet (EL236)

1 September 2004

From Text to E-Text

From "Computer Labs Aren't Designed for English Lit Students"

We are in many ways a post-literate society, but books of all sorts are still a big part of the academic life. Weíre in a period of transition, to be sure. While Harry Potter and other blockbusters sell a lot of copies, many, many other books hardly sell at all. Since there more readers on the planet, and more different books being produced than ever before, the chances are rapidly diminishing that any two readers have read the same book. If we donít read the same books, we canít talk about them, and the culture of books becomes less cohesive, less worth discussing.

Ordinary text is linear -- consider the scroll.

Paragraphs, capital letters at the beginnings of sentences, and even spaces between words were late inventions in the history of writing.

A book lets readers flip back and forth between pages, in a way that isn't possible with a scroll. The technology of the book changed the way people read, write, and think. The same thing is happening, and has already happened, with electronic text.

Due: Ex 1-1 (Self-assessment)

  1. Why are you taking this course? How would you assess your readiness for it?
  2. How do you feel about writing? How do you feel about computers?
  3. Have you ever kept a weblog or online journal? Do you already have a web page?
  4. What else should I know that will help you learn?
Length: 1 page. (All exercises should be printed out and handed in on the due date.)

You are invited to post your answer to this exercise online, if you wish.