Jerz: Writing for the Internet (EL236)

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.

Due: Ex 1-2 (Reviews and E-Newsletter)

  • Find the Seton Hill University entry on the website Comment briefly on two different reviews of SHU, and post one of your own. Save the URLs and submit them with this assignment. Length of review: at least 200 words.
  • Review something else online. Choose anything you like. Use ePinions, Amazon, or any other online service. Save the URL and submit it with this assignment. Length: at least 200 words.
  • Sign up for three different e-mail newsletters. To find newsletters, google for "e-mail news letters sign up", and then just add a word that interests you in order to narrow your results. Try to find weekly publications, since Ex 1-4 will ask you to review two e-newsletters. Save and submit the URLs of sample newsletters.
All exercises should be printed out and handed in. E-mail the URLs of the sign-up pages to me, with the subject line "YourLastName Ex 1-2".

Due: Ex 1-3 (Weblog Reviews)

  1. Find two weblogs on subjects that interest you. At least one of them should permit users to post comments.
  2. Using your chosen blogs as examples, reflect on something specific that you learned in Pane1 1-A. How do they differ from each other?
  3. Read some of the comments on your chosen blog. Post a comment to at least one blog entry.
  4. Examine the blogroll of one of your chosen blogs. Click on the links, and glance at the blogrolls of those weblogs, too. Write a brief reflection.
E-mail all URLs to me, with the subject line "YourLastName Ex 1-3".

Update: As usual, print out the exercise and hand it to me.

Suggested Blog Entry: Review one or both of your chosen blogs, drawing from what you learned in Pane1 1-A. Be sure to provide links, so your readers can see your sources for themselves. (Here's a review of my own blog. No, I don't expect your blog to be as active as mine... though I hope at least some of you get excited about blogging.)

Due: Ex 1-4 ('About' Page)

The assignment is to use what you've learned from reading Kilian's Writing for the Web to create an "about" page that introduces your readers to yourself and your weblog. We'll start this in class on Sept 13 -- it will be due Sept 15. I'm not posting full, step-by-step instructions here; this is just a road map we'll use during class.

  1. Check weblog config to ensure category archiving is turned on.
  2. Create "about" category.
  3. Optional (on your own time): create cateogries to sort your existing postings. Follow the instructions for adding more category features to your blog.
  4. Templates -> "Create new template index". Call the template "About", name the ouptut file "about.html" and link it to a file named "about.tmpl".
  5. Updated: Download (right-click, "Save Target As") the about.tmpl file. An item titled "Save as type" will be set to "HTML Document". Change that to "All Files." (You won't need to keep a copy of this file for long, but you will need to know where you put it so you can upload it in the next step.)
  6. Use "Upload File" to put a copy of this file in "". (That's the default place where uploaded files will go, so you shouldn't need to change any settings.) If you see two versions of "about" on your computer, upload the one that does not have the blue "e" icon attached to it.
  7. Create a test blog entry with a link to "". Click the link to check it.
  8. Now create a few separate blog entries under the category "about". Give each "chunk" a separate title, and publish each as a separate blog entry. Remember to rebuild each time.
  9. Change the date on each of your "about" entries to change the order in which they appear on your "about" page. Use a date far in the future to make the "about" entry "stick" to the front of your blog. Use a date in the past to hide the "about" entry from your front page.
  10. Edit the "links" sidebar to put a permanent link to your "About" page on your blogroll.

Your "About" page does not need to follow the same style you use elsewhere on your blog. If you feel brave, you can paste over the content of the "About" template you have created, and use an HTML editor to post anything at all in that space. My intention is to get you to start thinking of the various sections on your website as components.

Due: Group Project Proposal

Due: Ex 1-5

Complete Web Navigation and Web Images workshops.

Amanda and I will check all the pages listed in #10 of the Navigation exercise, and the four items specified in the Images exercise.

  1. (links to 2, 3, and 4)
  2. (links to 1)
  3. (links to 1)
  4. (links to 1, 5, and 6) (to link to 1 from a subdirectory, the URL is "../index.html".
  5. (links to 1 and 4)
  6. (links to 1 and 4)

simonandrews: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
larissabanker: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
nehabawa: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
kristenbergstein: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
ryanburger: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
camillacavo: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
laureneller: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
michaeliorio: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
rachelkaylor: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
stormyknight: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
vanessakolberg: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
melissalutz: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
victoriamara: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
valeriemasciarelli: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
lecrishamattox: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
samanthaolinger: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
misheilapellot: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
evanreynolds: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
moirarichardson: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
stefanierobb: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
leslierodriguez: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
denishiasalter: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
ashleythornton: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
timothytraini: [1][2][3][4][5][6]
christopherulicne: [1][2][3][4][5][6]

Due: Ex 1-6

Play the interactive fiction work "Photopia" (it's the file "photopia.z5"). It will take you about 45 minutes to an hour. If you get stuck, feel free to search the Internet for hints.

Write a one-page response (you are welcome to blog it) to IF in general, and Photopia in particular.

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.)

Due: Issue 1

To submit your newsletter issue, one member of your group should e-mail it to the whole class.

(Hit "reply all" to the e-mail I sent out to the address you entered into JWeb.)

Remember that this is an e-mail newsletter, so I will evaluate it mostly based on what actually ends up in my in box. (If your e-newsletter links to longer versions of articles online, that's fine, too.)

If you have already begun to collect a list of subscribers, e-mail it to them too -- but put their addresses in the "bcc" field, not the "cc" field of your e-mail reader. (Make it easy for your readers to respond to you with suggestions.)

If you have already decided where and how to archive the back issues of your newsletter, great. If not, that should be something you work on between now and your next newsletter issue.

Due: Portfolio 1

Most of your online writing is evaluated by your portfolio -- a collection of your best blog entries, that represent your developing intellectual engagement with the concepts and skills we have examined.

  • The Cover Entry: Post a blog entry that contains links to all the entries that you plan to submit for your portfolio. For the benefit of an outside reader (that is, someone who doesn't know what a blogging portfolio is), introduce each of these links and explain why they are significant. (For example, see "Favorite Blog Entries: Journaling Mode.")
  • The Collection: Your blogging portfolio is supposed to be a collection of your best weblog entries. For the purposes of this class, a "good" blog entry is one that demonstrates your intellectual engagement with the assigned readings and student panels, and/or the questions raised by your peers. Please do not say "This blog entry fulfills portfolio requirement #1". Write for an audience that does not know or care about your homework requirements.

    1. Coverage. Ensure that you have blogged something substantial (for a C-level grade, at least a paragraph) that demonstrates your intellectual involvement with five of the seven student panels (1-A through 1-G) and all three of the major assigned readings (Writing for the Web, The Weblog Handbook and either Hot Text or the text I will introduce in place of it).
    2. Depth. Three of the "coverage" entries you selected above should demonstrate your ability to examine a concept in depth. Do some original online research, and link to the precise pages where you got ideas that helped you formulate your ideas. If you prefer to use a library book, quote a passage that you found interesting. Here are a few examples of a blog entry that goes above and beyond the standard "what I thought about the book" blog entry: Fitting in in the Diamond Age and Forced Reading-- Beloved Character.
    3. Interaction. Of the "Coverage" blogs entries included above, three should demonstrate your ability to use weblogs to interact with your peers. For instance, you might disagree (politely) with something a peer has written; link to and quote from the peer's blog entry, then carefully (and respectfully) explain where you disagree. Rather than hurl accusations in order to make the other person look bad, cheerfully invite the other person to explain their perspective. Quote passages from the texts your peer has cited, or do additional research that helps unveil the truth. (These may or may not include some entries you have already included among your "Depth" entries.)
    4. Discussions. Blogging feels lonely when you aren't getting any comments; you will feel more motivated to blog if you enjoy (and learn from) the comments left by your readers. Your portfolio should include three entries (which may or may not overlap with either the "Interaction" or "Depth" entries) that demonstrate that your blog sparked a conversation that furthered your intellectual examination of a literary subjet.
    5. Xenoblogging. "Xeno" means "foreign," so xenoblogging (a term that I just coined) means the work that you do that helps other people's weblogs. Your portfolio should include three entries (which may or may not overlap with the ones you have already selected for "Coverage") that demonstrate your willingness to contribute selflessly and generously to the online classroom community. Examples of good xenoblogging:
      • The Comment Primo: Be the first to comment on a peer's blog entry; rather than simply say "Nice job!" or "I'm commenting on your blog," launch an intellectual discussion; return to help sustain it.
      • The Comment Grande: Write a long, thoughtful comment in a peer's blog entry. Refer to and post the URLs of other discussions and other blog entries that are related.
      • The Comment Informative: If your peer makes a general, passing reference to something that you know a lot about, post a comment that offers a detailed explanation. (For example, the in the third comment on a recent blog entry about the history and culture of print, Mike Arnzen mentions three books that offer far more information than my post did.)
      • The Link Gracious: If you got an idea for a post by reading something somebody else wrote, give credit where credit is due. (Since a link is so easy to create, it's not good blogging ethics to hide the source of your ideas.) If a good conversation is simmering on someone else's blog -- whether you are heavily involved or not -- post a link to it and invite your own readers to join in.

    6. Wildcard: Include one blog entry on any subject -- related to online writing or not, serious or not -- that you feel will help me evaluate your achievements as a student weblogger.

  • The Printout: As with every exercise, I ask that you submit a printed copy, bound with staples or in a three-ring binder. I will treat your submissions with reasonable care, but if pages fall out, I won't look at them -- so please do not use paper clips (even large ones).
    • While your cover blog entry should not specifically state "This entry fulfills portfolio requirement 3," I do want you to note, in pen or pencil, on the printout of your cover blog, which entry fulfills which requirement. Thus, if your cover blog refers to an entry called "Bartleby and Capitalism," and you want to submit it as "Coverage," "Depth," and "Interaction", hand write that on the printout of your blog.
    • On the printout of each individual blog entry that you are submitting, mark in pen or pencil which portfolio requirements that entry is fulfilling.
    • When submitting a comment that you posted to a classmates's blog entry, print out the whole entry, including your peer's original posting and all the comments that resulted; highlight your own contributions (with a highlighter or simply by circling them).
    • If put your pages in a binder, please don't use plastic sleeves for each individual page. The reason I want a printed copy is so that I can write comments on them easily, and it's a pain to have to fish the pages out of those plastic sleeves, scribble "Good question!" or a smiley face in the margin, and then stuff it back in.

If you have questions about this assignment, please post them here. (If you aren't a student in my class, and you just want to comment on the basic idea of using weblogs in a classroom, I invite you to post on my academic weblog instead.)

Due: Ex 2-1 ('Blogging as Social Action')

Reflection on Blogging as Social Action: A Genre Analysis of the Weblog

Of the above article, blogger and scholar Torill Mortenson writes,

while saying nothing really new about blogs, Carolyn Miller and Dawn Shepherd have done the work for us and written the article that puts down in writing and in public all those things we have all been saying for the last 3-4 years. And they have done it well, done the research, read the books, put it in writing and published it in an obvious place.

Write a one-page response to this article. You are encouraged to blog what you write.

Due: Ex 2-2 (Wiki Reflections)

Send me an email, with "Ex 2-2" in the title.

1) Include links to the Wiki entries you created and/or modified as part of the Wiki Workshop. Make some further edits/changes/expansions, as appropriate. Describe how this electronic authoring exercise differs from traditional writing activities.

Also, please print out your Wiki pages and submit them with the other parts of this exercise.

2) Read the following peer-reviewed academic article (excluding footnotes, it's about six printed pages): "Phantom authority, self-selective recruitment and retention of members in virtual communities: The case of Wikipedia".

Tips for reading an academic article: first, read the abstract, paying special attention to what the author plans to do -- in this case, the article will examine the online community of Wikipedia authors (which includes you) using speicalized social theory developed to study the behaviors of "teams" and "clubs".

Next, glance at the introduction, where the author defines important terms and introduces key concepts -- in this case, "virtual communities," "voluntary virtual associations" (that is, people who get together because they want to, rather than because they are forced to), and "open source" (intellectual property that is freely donated to the public domain, with the understanding that it will be reworked, expanded, and even possibly sold by other members of the public).

Pay closer attention to the passages beginning with "The case of Wikipedia" and continuing to the end of the conclusion.

Note especially the following passage:

Despite their positive aspects, virtual communities such as Wikipedia are not absolutely free of troubles. While the processes of recruitment and retention have been working quite well so far, but will they continue to operate in the future? Are the mechanisms that allow accumulation of reputation and hence, authority distribution, strong enough to guarantee medium–term sustainability, and to maintain the sense of trust and identity among members? Some instruments for entry selection, such as a compulsory registration, may further improve the quality of recruitment and therefore the outcome of the cooperative effort, without being detrimental to the community’s momentum. At the same time, more intense use of personal profile pages and a direct recognition of the contribution made by each user could foster a sense of trust and help retain retain participants. Finally, let me mention another problem related to the exercise of authority. If the number of administrators, retaining a certain degree of institutional authority, continues to grow over time, will a new complexity make it necessary to increase the number of hierarchical layers in the structure and discourage participation? This issue will need to be resolved at some point in the future.

3) What was your emotional response to Wikis? Positive? Negative? Mixed? Explain.

4) What does your response tell you about your own relationship to writing? In other words, if you loved or hated wikis, what does that tell you about yourself?

(Rescheduled from Oct 29)

Due: Ex 2-3: Interactive Fiction Sampler

I have already sent out instructions regarding this exercise... the first part asks you to find four interactive fiction games that interest you. You can use Baf's Guide to the Interactive Fiction Archive, where you can choose games by genre or awards (such as "best writing" or "best puzzles").

1) Play each of your four games for 15 minutes, and write a one-paragraph response. (I'm hoping you won't count your writing time as part of the 15 minutes... spend another 10 minutes writing, please.)

2) Then, choose one of your four games and play it for at least an hour. Write a two-page response.

3) Using what you have learned so far about writing for the web, put everything into a well-organized website, written according to the principles you have learned from the assigned readings.

Post your information on". You can try posting it all in one long page, or you can split it up into several shorter pages -- whatever you think works best.

Post links to where you found the games, and just enough explanation (incuding links) so that your page(s) would make sense to a stranger.

Your page(s) should point to the external stylesheet posted at "".

Update: The stylesheet is up.

simonandrews: Interactive Fiction Exercise
larissabanker: Interactive Fiction Exercise
nehabawa: Interactive Fiction Exercise
kristenbergstein: Interactive Fiction Exercise
ryanburger: Interactive Fiction Exercise
amandacochran: Interactive Fiction Exercise
michaeliorio: Interactive Fiction Exercise
dennisjerz: Interactive Fiction Exercise
rachelkaylor: Interactive Fiction Exercise
stormyknight: Interactive Fiction Exercise
vanessakolberg: Interactive Fiction Exercise
melissalutz: Interactive Fiction Exercise
victoriamara: Interactive Fiction Exercise
valeriemasciarelli: Interactive Fiction Exercise
samanthaolinger: Interactive Fiction Exercise
misheilapellot: Interactive Fiction Exercise
evanreynolds: Interactive Fiction Exercise
moirarichardson: Interactive Fiction Exercise
stefanierobb: Interactive Fiction Exercise
leslierodriguez: Interactive Fiction Exercise
denishiasalter: Interactive Fiction Exercise
ashleythornton: Interactive Fiction Exercise
timothytraini: Interactive Fiction Exercise
christopherulicne: Interactive Fiction Exercise

Due: Issue 2

Was originally due Nov 10.

Due: Individual Project Progress Report

Write a 2-page follow-up to your Informal Progress Report. What have you changed since then?

If you choose to post your progress report online, please print out a copy to hand in on the due date.

Due: Portfolio 2

Due: Ex 2-4

Peer Usability Evaluation

Individual Project Presentations 1

Individual Project Presentations 2

Due: Group Project Reflection

Final Exam (15%)

The exam (in A405, from 10:30-12:30) is your opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned about researching and writing online, using hyperlinks effectively, troubleshooting common Web page errors, and important current issues in cyberspace.


Open-book, open-notes, and open-Web -- but no collaboration is permitted.

You will publish your final exam on your website. (If that site is down for some reason, I will announce an alternate plan during the exam.)