Jerz: Writing for the Internet (EL236)


6 October 2004

Information Literacy

Information literacy is a librarian/researcher's term for the ability to recognize and use the materials and resources that you need.

When I was a graduate student, I got to know a medieval studies student who knew exactly how to read a religious painting. He knew how to read the hand positions of the figures in the painting, so that if two people are shown with their hands on an object, you can "read" whether one person is giving it to the other, whether they are fighting for it, sharing it, etc.

My friend had an informed visual literacy that I lacked. We both looked at the same painting. We both saw the same colors and shapes -- we saw the same data -- but he saw more information that I did.

In small groups, look at each of these pages, and evaluate its credibility. If you were writing a college research paper on a related topic, how likely would you cite this page? What strategies do you look for as you evaluate the quality of information you find on the site?


  1. http://www.gatt.org/homewto.html
  2. http://library.albany.edu/briggs/addiction.html
  3. http://www.chem.vt.edu/chem-dept/dessy/honors/papers/ferris.html
  4. From the Google home page, search for "victorian robots".
  5. From the Google home page, search for "french military victories"

After this exercise, I will discuss traditional academic peer review, and Google's PageRank system. If we have time, I will walk you through the interface at Slashdot (and an example of real-world, informal peer review, in a discussion of the assassination of Ultima's Lord British).

Due: Individual Project Proposal

Write a one-page statement of what you would like to accomplish. Include reference to at least 3 specific electronic writing projects that you would like to emulate. For instance, if you want to create a hypertext mystery story, what similar hypertext stories have you read? Provide the URLs if possible.

If your proposal includes lots of URLs, please send me the links in an e-mail so I won't have to type them all in by hand.

Hot Text is finally in

Pick up Hot Text in the bookstore, and read sections 1-5.

As part of your preparation for your newsletter, skim section III, and write a short (two-sentence) response to each section. Choose one or two sections that will best help you write 1) the kind of newsletter you want, and 2) the kind of individual project you want. Write a half-page reflection on each chapter. (You may blog this if you want, but please bring a printout to class.)