October 2008 Archives

I'm Sad

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Though there is one chapter left, looking at the course outline showed that this was our last assigned reading of Don't Make Me Think.  I think that this was the best book that I was forced to read this semester in the most biased, unprofessional way possible.

"Take anyone you can get and grade on a curve."  This made the most sense to me out of all the things that have been said on usability testing.  If anyone in the world could be entering my site, shouldn't I make it more usable for anyone?  So why would I pick a group of people that limits my findings to their demographic?  Of course, this is for average websites.  If you were testing a website with brand new military secrets, you would not want to use average people, you would want to use scientest to do the testing.  You probably would want to design the so only scientists could use it, and not regular citizens.  But if it is an average website, designed for the (falsely named) average user, then why not go ahead and use people from all different walks of life.  I can guess who is more likely to visit a site, but I cannot know exactly who is there now.

The "Reservoir of Goodwill" brought up many bad memories of filling out financial aid forms in the last six months, as I am sure that many other members of the class can attest to.  It is so confusing to have three or four different forms, all with the same name, but fifteen different pins, passwords, and "Forgot your password?" questions.  And the thing that really irritates me is the arrogance of it all.  It seems like the government is saying that they do not need to test the usability because it is the government; if they tell us to do it, we will do it no matter how annoying and difficult it is.  It just does not seem like the government has any compassion or empathy towards the people filing for student loans and grants.

The final chapter (that we read) did not make a lot of sense to me.  I was not sure where Krug was going with his "buttered cats."  I think that I did understand the main concept, though.  If your website is easy for a person with a disability to use, then imagine how easy it is for someone without a disability.  I also thought that it was interesting how even blind users scan documents and pages.  I never really thought about the blind using computers until this book.  It brings up the idea of why no one bothers to invent a screen reader that emphasizes bold keywords and hyperlinks.  Those are my thoughts anyway.

Am I Evil?

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We'll get to that later, but here is the chain of events.

I had played Slouching Toward Bedlam some before, so I knew how to do some things like turn Triage on.  I quickly did those things at the beginning, then turned to explorer the unknown elements of the game.

I started out in the office.  I searched everywhere, got the key under the blotter, got the rod, got all of the cylinders.  I listend to all of the cylinders, with their ominous Slouching Toward Bedlam tone.  The only interesting thing that I found was that there is some sort of political prisoner lock up in the upper north wing.  Then I went out and examined the panopticon, rode it up and down a couple of times, investigated Corridor 6 and got bored.

Then I decided to strike up a conversation with James, the receptionist who sits outside the office.  I asked him about everything from the panopticon to the previous doctor, and then starting typing in weird, random commands to amuse myself.  Most of the time he would say "Hmm..." or "That's interesting."  After becoming bored with that, I decided to do what I always do in these games, type "punch" followed by an object (in this case James).  It freaked me out because you cannot stab anything, but by punching James I was able to kill him with a letter opener.  Then I went outside the front doors and decided to "punch" the cabbie who was waiting there; he died of strangulation.  It was creepy because every time I killed someone, the game would say that the cold gains a stranglehold on you or something like that. / (thereisalsothefreakyvoicethatusesnospacesinitssentences) \ 

If I had the patience, I would actually try to figure out what all of this meant.  If I kill enough people, does the cold eventually take a hold of my body and kill me?  What is the freaky voice with no spaces?  What was with the inmate in the upper-north passage?  As much as I respect Dr. Jerz though, I have much more homework to get to, and I do not think that most of the other professors would give me leniency for playing a text based game instead of writing essays.  If someone has figured out part of the game, let me know what happens.

The thing that I would really like to know, though, is what it says about my personality if my initial response to a period of stagnation in the plot is to punch something.  In an essay I wrote, I talked about pulling a rod out of the wounded astronaut's back and watching him bleed to death because I could not find a bandage.  Did I really feel pity for the man?  I'm not sure that I like the person that these IF games bring out in me.

Someone let me know about my morality, and the morality of other souls in the same boat as me.  The EL236 fun-cruise.

A Lot to Learn

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I glanced at the 8 Quick Tips for Usability Testing, and read the ones that caught my attention in depth.

Some of them, such as testing fresh people for your website and using tasks instead of telling the user where to go were things that were already explained in class.

Other things intrigued me though.  The one that I thought was most interesting was asking questions in pairs.  It never occurred to me to use a quantitative question to create a statistic, and ask another question so that the user can give a rationale for the statistic.  I think that I was trying to get there in my mock usability test, but I was not sure of the way to go about it.  I asked the questions separately, so my users did not associate the opinion with the reason why they chose to say something.

The other tip that stood out was the idea that you should not lead the witness.  If you ask the user whether the navigation was good, you are limiting the amount of responses you can receive.  The user may have noticed that your homepage was extremely sloppy, but now that you asked him about the navigation he has noticed some problems.  The homepage problem is worse and covers up subtle miscues with the navigation, but you will never know that because you told the user what you wanted fixed, not asked for what he wanted fixed.

Those were the two biggest revelations that I had when reading the text.

Now for a revelation in itself, it is the EL236 website.

Where to Begin?

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When isn't using humor appropriate? :-)  To me, it makes this book much more alive and interesting.  I love the dry humor Krug uses to give a synopsis of Oklahoma!

And what did I find useful about the book?  I felt relieved that someone feels the same way about the homepage.  I have thought that creating a homepage was like using a police baton.  You want to gently nudge the user, so they know what direction they should be moving, but if you give them too much direction, it feels like you are poking or beating the user.  I always felt like I was not giving enough information, but "Hello! My name is Jed.  I am currently taking a college and this is my website about...Use it this way." sounds extremely corney and forced. Thanks to Krug, I now understand the tagline, and how to organize my links.  At the top of my next homepage, I am going to put a giant picture of my head along with the tagline "Jed Fetterman, the finest name in fiction."

If there was anything close to the revelation that tabs are art from my last entry, it would probably be what Krug says about the uniqueness of how we all use the web.  I never thought about it, but there is no "average" user of anything.  We all conform things to our own needs, things don't conform us to their needs.  That probably is what makes the internet so popular.  The first page that I see when I open up Internet Explorer on my laptop is Seton Hill's website because it is central to everything that I am doing right now, but someone could just as easily set the browser's homepage to USC's website because it suits that person better.  Or, dramatic gasp, you could even use a website that is not college-run.  And think about how annoying the internet would be if we all had to start at Google, or, even worse, those stupid Microsoft update pages.  If would make me crazy if I did not have the freedom to make these choices.

So, I do not think that the point of the usability test is to make a website that forces users to go one direction or leads them down a certain path better; it is more for making the website EASIER for the user to CONFORM THE WEBSITES TO HIS OR HER NEEDS.  After all, they are the ones who need (or at least who you want) to use the website, not you.  I think that should be the first law of usability.

Come on Jed!  Think of a better segue into the EL236 credits.

Aha!

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While reading this section of Krug's book, I felt like all of these ideas were rolling around in my subconsciouse.

I really agree with what he said about the logos in the upper-left corner of the screen.  I always hate it when I go to the one site on the entire internet where the logo is not a link to the homepage.  This is one of the first things I discovered about the internet, so it makes me go insane when people do not follow this convention.

"Tabs are one of the very few cases where using a physical metaphor in a user interface actually works."  I disagree with Krug on the idea that tabs are any more useful than the links at the top of a page, but they just seem to have the "cool" factor.  It is no longer hackneyed and blaze hypertext which is blue and underlined; the page actually comes alive.  The whole page becomes the color, and suddenly you are no longer dealing with an abstract approximation of real life, but a representation of reality in your browser.  Tabs are art.

"Happy talk must die."  I think that is one of the things that I need to work on when I create a home page.  Instead of saying this is my website and this is what it's for, I should show them better.  I could cut down on the amount of content, reducing the need for chunking and bolding keywords, and it would give me practice with using implied meanings which I will use a lot as an author.

One last quote: "One of the choices, Language, is relatively painless."  I have always wondered why someone would create a webpage entirely in English, but have a drop-down menu (labeled in English with "Language") that has every world language listed on it.  I think that it is so redundant.  They should just make the default language english, and then create a link at the bottom of the page that says, "Je ne parle pas anglais."  That would save me a lot of time and mental effort, which is what Krug wants web designers to do.  And who is to gurantee that the user has enough of an understand of English to know what the "Language" box means.  It makes no sense to me at all.

That's my angry rant against web designers for today.  For more angry rants, stop by the EL236 website.

Thank You Steve

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"Don't make me think."  If only college worked that way.  But he makes a valid point.

I would rather be doing something mindless instead of writing this blog on a Sunday afternoon.  And it is not as if I cannot do it, I just like when things are as efficient as possible.  I especially want that out of the internet because I just want to get in and out as fast as possible.

The book has done a good job, so far, of making me question the structure of websites that I visit.  For instance, the point he raises about the drop-down menus in the search bars always aggravate.  You spend all of that time categorizing your search for the author, and the first item that comes up in the search is something with the author's name in the title.  So much wasted time.

The question I find myself asking, though, is how I should go about avoiding these pitfalls.  Right now, it seems the only way to avoid these problems is to either be an expert designer who knows every little convention, or do complex usability tests.

Still I like the concise style and humor of the book.  Don't Make Me Think has made me think...but in a good way.

To EL236.

Comments

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You can post comments about the IF website here.

Thank you.

Get Ye Flask

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I have been looking to this day for a while because I was hoping this was what it would be about, as vague as it sounds.

I have never played a text-based game before in my life.  Furthermore, l can barely imagine a game with no graphics, and only 16k of memory, I think I've written papers that take up more memory than that.  I can also not fathom the fact that people actually found these games fun, but more of that later.

Audience: Examine tree.
Adams: I see a tree. It looks climbable. Obvious exits: N, S, E, and W.
Audience: Climb the tree.
Adams: Two words! Two words! We don't let you get away with anything here. Ok, climb tree. 

I'm in the top of the tree. To the east I see a meadow. Obvious exits: Down.

I found this quote immensely hilarious though.  It embodies everything that I have heard about text games.  They are painfully annoying, and next to impossible to beat.  It reminds me of a phase I went through a couple of years ago, when I wanted to play the Myst series.  The problem is, I would start playing them and they would be next to impossible to solve.  I would always go online and find walkthroughs.  There is also the first-person element to both game styles, and they both involve problem solving.  To me, even if they were impossible to figure out at the time, these were more fun than the shooter games that I have wasted less than 24 hours of my entire life on.

So where have I heard about "archaic" text games.  Well, my friends discovered something known as Dungeon Man, created by the comic character Strong Bad.  The game pokes fun at the old text games by taunting the player when unusable commands are typed, and the way commands are written for these games.  I was surprised to learn that there is now a third version of the game, and I wasted a lot of time playing it before writing this.  So I would encourage you to give these a try, and see the humorous side of these games, along with the serious side presented on the other side.  Now, if you excuse me, I have more games to play.

Obvious exits are North, South, and Dennis (I didn't plan it this way, Dr. Jerz, it just worked out ;-). 

Portfolio #2: Stagnation

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Okay, I will admit that I did not learn stagnation, but it does exemplify my feelings about my work for EL236 in the two or three weeks since the last portfolio.  Below are some of my writings for the class, in a new style of short paragraphs and bullets.  While I do not feel my writing getting better, I have been "forced" to experiment with literary criticism and hypertext resumes, but more of that will be explained later.  If I had to say what I have been learning (which I do since I am supposed to proving that statement in the body of this entry), I would say that I am gaining more attention to detail.  My entries are becoming longer, violating Kilian's advice, but the ideas are becoming more concentrated also; I feel that I am saying what I want to say with more ease now.  And now, what you have all been waiting for, back by popular demand (from Dr. Jerz), it is portfolio number two.

Coverage

This is a section that I feel is greatly improved over last time.  As always, I include a link to the course page (usually at the bottom) of every pertinent blog just for the readers' convenience.  I have also improved by embedding the direct quotations in the text instead of giving a quote at the top and giving my argument about it in the body.  I cannot take the credit for choosing to do this, it was assigned, but I can take credit for using the close reading style well for a rookie.

Timeliness

I am proud to say that I have not had a late assignment up to this point.  However, most of them are still not posted 24 hours before the due date, it is something more like 12.  Here are a few things

Interaction

I feel that I have had the most improvement in this area of my writing.  While I do not respond to every comment immediately (and sometimes there are four or five in a row now) I respond to every comment the day it is left.  Now, the trick will be getting people to come back so a complete discussion will be formed, but I am happy with the changes to this point.

Depth

I feel that this is my strongest area.  It may not be best suited for the internet, but I use well-thought paragraphs and make good arguments.  This section would be my Greatest Hits album if I were a band I guess.

Discussion

This is probably the biggest area of stagnation for me.  I have continued to comment on at least two blogs, but I do not feel that my comments are enhancing my views on the issues, or enhancing the discussion's development.  I also have not been looking hard at other people's writing, and have focused solely on the ideas that they present.  I think that that would make me a useful classmate as well as a better student.

  • The better side of interaction - while it is short, and caused no one else to comment, I thought that the comment on Alex's blog shows how I can interact well with classmates
  • Response - on Aja's blog I wrote a comment that made her respond
  • Help anyone? - this one on Jackie's shows the philanthropic side of my commens, and got a response
  • Another good side - one on Andy's blog that also shows my ability to praise others ideas while still dissecting their content

I think that my greatest disappoint this time is in the area of personal blogs.  While the school work is what I am being graded on, I still feel that a blog gives me a great opportunity as a writer, and I failed to take advantage of that opportunity.  I do like how the portfolios really show me where my strengths and weaknesses are right away, unlike tests and papers where there is a turnaround period.

And since I said about it at the top of the entry, here is the omnipresent link to the course website. 

My Final Thoughts About What Kilian Says

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I hope that is what these are.  As a whole, I thought that this was a very well written, helpful book that has kept me thinking.  As an aside, I received a letter from my grandmother about my cat, who she affectionately calls "Killah".  I was reading the letter sort of fast, so when I came to the part where she identifies the cat, I thought she wrote "Good luck with Kilian", and I was bewildered by how she knew the author of the book that I was blogging about.  That really has nothing to do with my feelings about the book, it just illustrates how much of a mark the readings and subsequent discussions made on me.

As for the text itself, I thought it took the best mode of explaining the writing style by introducing what hypertext is and the concept of chunking in the very beginning.  Those concepts govern the rest of the writing style and were unknown to me before reading this book, so that was helpful.  I also liked the exercises within the text; too many times people explain the rules of grammar without giving you practice exercising those rules.  However, I would have liked to see more of them throughout the book, and maybe have them utilized better electronically.  For the first part, more practice cannot hurt.  The second part deals more with the readability stats.  I know that a lot of people had trouble using the website presented in the book to get their readability information.  It did not affect me since I had Microsoft Word, but if I had not, I would not know the statistics of my writing.  A calculator on the cd that comes with the book might be helpful; the writer could copy and paste a document into it and let the Flesch-Kincaid equation do the rest.  I do not know how feasible this is, but it is just a whim that I had.

I also liked the unity of the book and how it kept referring to referring back to orientation, information, and action.  It gives me a good set of guidelines when I start writing my term project later this semester.  I would have liked to see Kilian give me a few more ways of tackling the issue.  The three words are good, which is a considerable improvement of an earlier position, but I just feel that it gets me in a mode of thinking that does not allow freedom.  Everyone turned to the internet because it was a new and interesting way to present themsleves, it represented thinking outside the box.  I think the book should encourage people to think about those three terms in a way that elevates the level of their usage.  I guess that I am trying to say that the book almost entirely full of interesting new ideas, I just thought the last chapter lost some of those fresh ideas by relying on the ideas presented through the whole book.

In conclusion, I think that this is an effective book.  As a freshman in college, this book was my first experience with grammar rules and style guiding at the college level.  I thought that it did a good job of explaining things in a helpful, understandable way without condescending or patronizing me.  I think that it should stay close to this form.

And now back to the main event.

Apples to Oranges

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I think that hypertext fiction is possible.  If you look at 10:01, it has Aristotle's basic qualifications for plot; the beginning is 10:01 to the movie and the end occurs when the movie starts (obviously the middle occurs in between those two parts).  It has a concept of unity and wholeness in the idea of the thoughts running through people's heads, the waiting in boredom for the movie creating the thoughts.  Even the movie theatre itself ties everything together.  While you can drop in on the story at any point you like, there is a fixed sequence of events.  Something that happens eight minutes before the movie comes after something nine minutes before the movie, and though you click on the eight-minute link first, it still does not change the sequence of events leading up to it.  In a similar way, the last page of a book can be read first, but order in which the events occur.   This differs greatly from a work like the University of Yellow Paper or the Body, where any and every link is a possible entry point into the story.  As for a "certain definite magnitude," I did not count the number of stories in 10:01, but there was a finite size of them.  There are links embedded into the text, but these are external links, and have little effect on plot.

I think that even something like Tao fits these qualifications.  It begins with the music, video, and the words "earth blown out to stars."  It ends when the movie, music, and text stop; it has unity in the idea of "earth blown out to stars/stars blown down to earth..."  The sequence is fixed; you cannot start the movie at the end and move it to the beginning, and it has a definite size of 38 seconds and 18 words.

At the same time, there are works out there that are not fiction.  Carving in Possibilities is one of those.  There is no definite beginning: I could begin with the quote "I am your mystery" as easily as I could begin with the quote be honest.  There is no fixed sequence, just the random pattern that your mouse makes.  If you move your mouse back and forth enough times, the carving of David will complete itself and end the experience, for lack of a better word.  One time, you could make 40 passes of the mouse before the ending, and the next could be 15; there is no definite magnitude.  There is not even any unity or wholeness to the work.  One spot says "Be honest," while another spot says "Can we feel it in the depths or only in the carved shadows?" while yet another says "I saw precisely what the stone was meant to be."  These appear to be random quotes and inspirations thrown together because they dealt with carving.

Carving in Possibilities represents the new style of internet writing.  It is an interactive hodgepodge of media.  While lacking fictional merit, this style increases the interactivity of the work.  You are given the task of "carving" out the statue while meaning is carved out of the words.  On another web page, you can gain information from it while keeping the mouse still.  On this site, you will not gain any information without bringing yourself into the work.

Another illustration of this new kind of interaction comes from carrier.  The site asks the reader to type in his or her name to bring the reader into the plot.  This allows the website to use the name in all subsequent spots where a name would be required; instead of using generic character names.  I guess that you could cross out a main character's name and substitute your own on every page of a 600 page novel, but that would be very strange.

One final high point of creative writing on the internet is the ability to easily mix text and animation.  The Dreamlife of Letters is the work of a child without the internet; it is just a bunch of simplistic words put out on the web.  With the internet, however, you can make the word fish swim like one, or the word surprise rise up in fear.  The internet adds another level in which you can combine words and art.

I think that we should be wary of Aristotle's fixed forms.  Remember, he is the one who said that nothing could be humorous if it induces laughing through pain.  Ask the Three Stooges if that affected them.  The bottom line is that just because it is new technology does not give us the right to act xenophobically around these works; they are still artistic at the very least.  And that is where I think that the question of whether hypertext is fiction is futile.  It is like comparing a work by Delacroix to that of Victor Hugo; though they were both from the same time period, they specialized in different forms of art.  Just like music cannot be placed against drama, so too can we not compare hypertext and fiction constructively.

It's late at night.  Do you know where EL236 is?

Movie in the Mall

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10:01 is the story of people's thoughts before a movie.  But the thoughts do not originate so much from the people themselves as they do from an outsider imagining what they are thinking.

The thing that points to it most is the terrorist attack.  Sid Munsterburg sees a man holding something that "looked like a joystick."  The next moment, the theatre is aflame.  Ryan Moody has "baked dust singing his sinuses"; Vladislav begins by "freeing his Glock"; the actor Josh Hartnett tries to help people but realizes that this "this isn't a stupid movie."

But all of that means nothing.  It is just Milo Magnani, manager of the movie theatre, watching through the rows.  He "loves watching trailers for disaster movies.  But he loves watching his clients watch them more."  There is more to this statement than meets the eye.  First, Magnani likes disaster movies, so he is willing to use his imagination to create these when he is bored.  Then there is the fact that he likes his clients (the people in the movie theatre) to watch them even more.  Magnani is willing to not only create a story for the people of the theatre, he is willing to imagine the story taking place through the eyes of others.  That gives the entire story an interesting twist.

That's what I need, a link to the course website.

Hypertext Vol. 1

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I was supposed to choose four works from Electronic Literature Collection Vol. 1.  In reality I looked at five or six. 

  • The first one that I looked at was Carving in the Possibilities.  This one was not annoying, but it was too easy to mouse over text and lose a sentence or two.  I realize that you may not need to see every piece of information, but I still like it when I do.  And, since your mouse is 'carving' out David's statue, if you go back and read a sentence that you miss, it only shortens the duration of time for viewing the piece.
  • Next was 10:01, a collection of the thoughts people have ten minutes and one second before a movie begins.  The story in this one was probably the most traditional, and understandable, of all that I tried.  I do not see how making the story electronic enhances the work, though.  There are few hyperlinks thrown in, and a couple of sounds make the story slightly more dramatic.
  • Then there was carrier (becoming symborg).  This one was quite interesting because it took a deadly virus and gave it a personality.  However, the effect was minimized somewhat when Vista and Internet Explorer kept asking me to install Shockwave player to make the story work right.
  • Then there was Tao, a 38 second long poem that scrolls by while showing a video taped as a car drives down a scenic highway.  It was too quick to make a sizeable impression though; 38 seconds seems like a long time, but in reality it is extremely fast for a work of literature.
  • Finally, I looked at Dramlife of Letters.  This one scrolls third-grade level words through in various manners.  I assume that it went all the way to the end of the alphabet, but I did not have the patience to find out. 

All of these, except the last, make an excellent case for a deeper reading.  Come back next time to discover which one I chose.

The preeminent source for Writing for the Internet.

The Body

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I was a little bit more uncomfortable with this piece.  I generally enjoy reading more psychological writings (like the University of Yellow Wallpaper).  It feels strangely conspiratorial to me to see someone else's body through that person's eyes.  However, if you are going to see something from another's point of view, hypertext is an excellent means for doing so. Hypertext, and its lack of linearity (if that is a word), lends itself to stream of conscious styles.  We are allowed to look at the narrators body without bothering to flow from face, eyes, nose, down to the feet.  We are allowed to move freely from hands to ears to mouth to toes in no particular order, allowing the reader to choose an interest.  Hopefully this does not sound too creepy and weird.

Now, as for the close reading, I think that the major theme of The Body is the blending of art and words.  The narrator describes drawing her body when no one would "sit still for me."  She then proceeds to blur the lines between visual and literary art by describing her "knobby feet," "linebacker shoulders," and "tinkerbell toes."  She is not describing herself, she is describing what it looked like when she would draw herself.  Even the page titled Body, is a combination of words and drawings.  There are pictures of the body parts with words around the periphery of the body's picture describing each body part. This work is designed to give us insight into the narrator's view of her body from both a visual and verbal perspective, though with more subtlety than a book, which would have a picture on one side of the page with an anecdote or description of the picture on the other side.  The internet, and some of its formatting features allow the two to melt together better than they would on paper.

Now for a seamless melting of your brain to the computer. 

The University of Creative Hypertext

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My initial hope was that, though the writing did not make sense immediately, the University of Yellow Wallpaper would eventually make sense once everything was read, like in a traditional novel.  Not only did it not make sense in the end, but I have a nagging feeling that there was no ending at all.  It is intended for the reader, I feel, to click on interesting links until he or she gains an understanding of the style and tone, not of the individual events that create that style and tone.  Indeed, though I was amazed by the amount of links that I had clicked on, I understood very little of the 'plot', though it is nonlinear, so it would not have a plot based on cause and effect.  What it lacks in that area, it makes up for in the creation of a style that illustrates confusion, and some excellent metaphors thrown in.  Overall, I liked the writing style.  I do not know if I could write something so abstract (and I'm using that term loosely) by C.E. White deserves credit for being risky and attempting something new.

The University of Yellow Paper uses contradictions to create a sense of confusion that is normal to all web users: "this is the place you begin...but...the first lexia is the place to begin."  This conundrum is experienced by all web users, as Kilian describes, we can never be sure if users are arriving at the home page, but this site exploits our lack of knowledge; notice that the URL contains the phrase "dont_start_here."  Ellipses [...] add to such confusion by never giving away the previous sentences connection to the page currently being read; there is no understanding of whether the current page is intended to follow the chosen link, another unfound link, another unknown page or set of pages, all, some, or neither.

The author also uses this confusion to describe philosophical confusion.  The narrator describes "existential "nothingness"," "possible annihilation," and "I might not exist."  Further on, frustration is encountered when the narrator is unable to express thoughts;  "I know something...which will drive you mad if you do not express it..."  The narrator is asking the questions of the universe and existence, but finds herself unable to grasp it in terms she can understand.  It is allegorically the internet.  When she is asking about existence and "death will arrive at any moment," we are meant to take that as the fact that things may or may not last on the internet; the website here today may not be here tomorrow.  When she attempts to "express" her thoughts, we are using a search engine to fight through the voluminous amounts of information available.  In the end though, nothing can be satisfactorily understood.  We pass highlighted links, indicating the places we were at before, circling around to the places we've been to before in search of something that we do not know we are looking for, and consequentially can never find.  The weight of the questions crushers the questioner, and we are left with little bits of circular thought.  I picked up some of these ideas from Daniella's comment that I read before writing this.

Obviously, the work has me confused, but I think that I finally arrived at a plausible theory for this piece's purpose through its words.

Now to discover another's purpose through words.

Kilian's Last Stand

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Today I finished the last two exercises for the Kilian text.

The first exercise required me to edit a large and slightly difficult piece of writing down to something more manageable and readable on the internet.  I had no trouble with the first, cutting the writing in half, and taking the readability down one grade level.  The second entry was even easier.  Yet again, I cut the word count in half, and was able to bring the piece down to a 4.8 reading level.  I do however feel like some of the language became a little too simplistic, and on the web would make the sites message more diluted.

The second exercise asked me to write down what I thought of several websites.  I compared the websites of Seton Hill, St. Vincent, and Pitt.  I noticed interesting things.  Seton Hill's website is devoted almost solely to links and lacking much useful information other than where to go.  St. Vincent's site, on the other hand, has many links plastered on its home page, so many so that the website appears cluttered and loses its meaning for a college.  I thought that Pitt's was the most appealing.  It was small, taking up only a quarter of the screen, but it had well organized links and current events that were all planned out in an orderly way.  It had the right combination of information, order, and understandability, so I did not feel overwhelmed or confused about the sites reason for existence.

EL236

November 2008

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