October 2008 Archives

Hidden Information Can Cause Complications...Krug9-11

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Some sites hide pricing information in hopes of getting users so far into the process that they'll feel vested in it by the time they experience the "sticker shock." My favorite example is Web sites for wireless access in public places like airports..."

--Krug

This section of the book sort of clicked with me. Probably one of the most annoying thing for me is when I can't find what I'm looking for on a website. For example, just the other day, I visited the Apple website to check the prices for the new MacBooks. Usually, I visit the Education store, but in this instant, I couldn't find it. Anywhere. It was like the link just vanished. There used to be a huge icon in the center of the page that read "Education Store," but that was during back-to-school season. I guess it makes sense that they would want to draw attention to it during this time. But now, the link is significantly smaller and on the sidebar, a place that I completely overlooked. I did eventually find it, but it took way too much thinking.

Another comment I would like to make involves the quote I chose for this blog. As I've mentioned several times, I work at Staples.During my lunch breaks, I sometimes like to surf the web on my iPhone. (un)Fortunately, Staples offers free Wi-Fi. Once a user opens a new webpage, she is prompted with a message about the Wi-Fi and cannot use the internet connection until they scroll to the bottom of the page and click "I accept." While this is a pain for me, the worst part is that staples makes you do it every time. So, in some cases, it's just easier for me to use my iPhone's internet rather than Staples. I guess the point that I'm tyring to make is that, while it's important to share their private policy, once should be more than enough. Nobody ever reads it anyway...

Nobody ever reads it anyway...this phrase is so common on the internet. How many times have we installed a program and simply pressed "i accept" instead of reading the terms and conditions. So, I beg the question, why even bother? All those boxes of information do is cause people to think, but most of the time, people refuse to think anything more than, "how do I bypass reading all of this?"

What's everyone else think of Krug's book?

Got Sanity?

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Wow. Although the title of this IF intrigued me, because I knew prior to playing that Bedlam was an insane asylum in London years ago, I figured this would have an eerie feeling to it. It did...sort of. To tell you the truth, I didn't get very far...and I played for more than an hour. As soon as I got stuck, which was in the main hospital wing, I utilized my newly discovered searching abilities on the web to track down a useful walkthrough. The walkthrough was slightly different from the ones I usually use when playing console games, such as Halo or Gears of War (yes, I'm a girl who's a sucker for a good shooter game...). Nevertheless, I followed the directions provided, and soon I was on my way.

To tell you the truth, I don't think I would have been able to progress very far without the walkthrough. It told me to "push the emerald," something I probably never would have thought of. I guess that's part of the game though, using as many verbs as possible. The walkthrough gave me all these directions concerning the triage, which I'm assuming is just a mini robot that gives information concerning the hospital and its patients.

In another room in the hospital, I was able to view a few of the rooms in the hospital. Most of them appeared to be in a disasterly state. Walls crumbling. Dirt. Dust. A mess. One room, was partially still intact, and in this room, the walls were covered in writing. The walkthrough led me in the appropriate direction to see the room in person, rather than through the virtual blueprints. I could make out some of the words, "chld" meant "child," for example. But, I also used Triage to analyze the writings, but I had a really hard time understanding the code that triage spits back at the user. It seemed as confusing as the writing on the walls.

When I was led into the Archieves room, the walkthrough gave me a code to enter into triage to view the notes taken for a specific patient--the inhabitant of the room with the writings on the wall. I took my time to read each page of the diary concerning the patient, which was actually pretty interesting. This section was probably the best part that I encountered, because it reminded me of the twist on Alice in Wonderland: American McGee's Alice. In this game, the user is a different version of Alice, who had survived a fire that killed her parents. She was placed in an asylum and escapes to Wonderland, which isn't very wonderful anymore.

After leaving the hospital, I followed the walkthrough to the cab, but the walkthrough said "get key" before entering the car. I said "get key" but the computer didn't see one. This was where I got stuck. In order to progress according to the walkthorugh, I needed to have an iron key to open a door on Fleet Street (which reminded me of Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber on Fleet Street...wonder why...)

So, basically, even though I didn't get very far in the hour, I still learned a lot about the game. It was a lot more literary than the other ones we've done, but I still enjoyed it. What did everyone else think?

Pulldown menus...my worst nightmare...

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One common approach is using pulldown menus...You have to seek them out...They're hard to scan...They're twitchy.

-Krug, Don't Make Me Think!

I found the extrememly long chapter 8 very useful. I did my Usability testing before I read this section, which probably was a stupid mistake, but in a way, I'm glad I did. During my usability testing, one of my test subjects hardly even noticed the pulldown menus that materialized on Cobragolf.com. Because he didn't notice those pulldown menus, he wasted valuable time and almost missed the information he was looking for (because they did save space, but didn't offer the same information on another page...go figure). As soon as I read this section, I thought back to that incident. I never really noticed how uneffective they really are, especially when involved with my usability testing.

Yet again, Krug's book is proving useful to me. Before reading this book, I never put a lot of thought into how much time I spent looking around on a site for what I was looking for. Now, I'm a bit more conscious about what's going on. Even the comment about the taglines. They really do make a difference. When I think about Staples' website, since I work there, I always think about their tagline "That was easy." I can't tell you how many people ask me if we sell the easy button...so it only fits that they feature the easy button on the website as well. Still, Staples could use some of Krug's advice. They recently rennovated their website, and I don't think it was for the better. But that's not what this blog is about...

Even though Krug did get a little bit repetative towards the middle of chapter 8 and offered almost too many examples of bad websites, he did an excellent job of getting the message across that it's important to send the right message. Get my drift?

"There's no place like home." Krug CH4-6

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Just click your heels together three times and say, "There's no place like home."

One of the most crucial items in the persistent navigation is a button or link that takes me to the site's Home page.

--Don't Make Me Think!

As if Dr. Jerz hasn't stressed the importance of this enough, here it is again, evident in Krug's Don't Make Me Think! Because of its length, Chapter 6 is obviously one of the most important parts of this book. While Chapters 4 & 5 offer some useful insights, they were mostly review from Kilian's book, which isn't a bad thing, but it was a nice change to learn something new.

Chapter 6 dives into unchartered territory, telling us all about the importance of navigation. Thinking back to my experience with the web, there has been more than one occasion in which I wish I could just get back to the homepage to find a fresh link, so this stuff is pretty obvious. However, Krug also points out where such information should be located and how much should be revealed. I like that. Unfortunately, I don't have enough experience with html or other web design to really utilize some of these useful hints. I've only brushed the surface with using a nav_bar, but even so, I'm sure that if I took enough time, I could figure out how to make a page that represents all of Krug's requirements. I know I could easily make a logo using Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. Still, I think I have a while to go before I'm a professional web designer. Nevertheless, this chapter offers so many useful tips that a user can utilize even if she's just surfing the web. I like that. In fact, I just plain love this book period.

Job-o-rama? Krug Intro-CH.3

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"Jobs" "Employment Opportunities" "Job-o-Rama"

--Don't make me think, Steve Krug

 

After reading the section about word choice for links, I started thinking back to when I first applied for my part-time job at Staples. Even though the initial link says "Jobs," at the bottom of the page, the page within gives the user so many options that we have to think, and as Krug so clearly states in his book, we shouldn't have to think. From within that page, I have to choose between "Jobs Main, Working here, Careers at Staples, and so forth. Only if my eyes wander further down the page will I see the obvious link to choose: hourly jobs. Still, this process takes far too much time, and it's no wonder my Staples store has such a hard time keeping a well staffed store--people have a hard time even finding the application page!

Thus far, I have no complaints about this book. In fact, I actually like it. Even though some of the material is obvious and a no-brainer, it's still nice to see it in writing. And I loved the examples he illustrates exactly what a user sees compared to what's actually visible. When I think about the research papers that I wrote in high school, I realize now that I'm a typical user. If I didn't find revelant information within the first five minutes of scanning, I would hit the back button and search elsewhere.

I love Krug's bluntness in this book as well, such as "If your audience is going to act like you're designing billboards, then design a billboard." Something so simple, yet, it's pretty obvious that not everyone thinks that far out of the box. I can't wait to see what he has to say in the upcoming chapters.

 

Wanna read others' thoughts?

Beware of the eyes watching from within the monitor

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Ah, so it's portfolio time again. This time around, I've learned a little about writing and more about hypertext. I never realized how much hypertext I come in contact with each day, and I also never realized just how much it can affect my future. A good online resume or personal webpage can open career doors for me.

But, the most important thing that I've learned over the past few weeks is to always be aware of my audience. Crawford Kilian posted on my blog today, and was very gracious even though I'd said some pretty harsh things about disliking his book. This experience has helped me realize that we really do need to pay attention to just who might be reading our blogs. In the future, I plan to be more considerate. My apologies go out to Crawford Kilian.

 

Coverage: I feel very accomplished in this section. Even though I had a very busy golf schedule which took away a lot of time from my school work, I still managed to finish all of my blog entries, minus one or two, which I promptly have made up even though the due date has passed.

Lost in Translation offers many links to the original text, which also can serve as a direct quote from the passage. And, the blog entry links back to the original course website.

Are you Active or Are you Passive also includes an indepth quote from Kilian's book and a link back to EL236.

Who Knew the Body could be so nostalgic also offers a direct quote, and several links to various sections of the hypertext fiction required reading.

For more examples, see:

  •  A new form of literature? Blog 3
  •  A new form of literature? Blog 2
  •  A new form of literature? Blog 1
  •  

    Timelessness: Even though I was out of town during a few of our classes, I still managed to finish *most* of my blog entries prior to class. They include:

    Interaction: I think this aspect of my blogs has improved significantly from my last portfolio. Maybe that was because I spent more time ranting than I used to, but whatever the reason, let's hope I get even better at provoking others to comment.

    Depth: Because I had so many issues with Kilian's book, I went far more into depth in these sections than in the rest of my blogs...

    Also see:

    Discussion: I tried to post more comments this time around, and although I still think I could improve on this section, I did a better job than I did prior to the first portolio...although I can't seem to remember everyone's blog entries that I commented on. Here are a few examples that I did recover:

    Don't Play Word Games with Me

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    I'm in a forest. I see trees. Obvious exits are N, S, E, and W.

    Audience: Go north.
    Adams: Go north.

    I'm in a forest. I see trees. Obvious exits are N, S, E, and W.

    Audience: Go south.
    Adams: Excellent. 

    I'm in a forest. I see trees...

    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.

    As soon as I realized Jerz and Adams were referring to a videogame, I researched the game, Adventureland and found a playable version within minutes. So, while completely listening to Jerz and Adams in the background, I started playing the game. I gotta admit, I didn't get very far...I never made it out of the forest. As an avid gamer, I was intrigued by this version of "learning by doing," although I got stuck so easily.

    In terms of the reading, Adams gives me hope that I can make a career out of my journalism degree that will involve some sort of videogames, whether it be articles or "interactive fiction." Although this particular word game seems to almost "play" with your mind, it does make you think, and think, and then think some more until you become frustrated.

    I enjoyed this reading and listening--I did pay attention while playing Adventureland. I'm a fantastic multi-tasker. But the point is, if Adams could accomplish such a complex (yet now simple) process as creating a web text-based game a few decades ago, imagine what we could do with today's technology.

    This reading leaves me eager to create my own word-game. I just hope it's as much fun as those games typically found on Typing Tutor.

    Now for everyone else's thoughts...

    Writing for the Web for Dummies

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    Okay, so although I was one to criticize this book as often as possible, I acknowledge that parts of this book did help me. In terms of content, Kilian does an excellent (sometimes overly excellent) job at explaining what to and not to do when writing hypertext. Having said that, I do have a few complaints. For one, I felt that Kilian spent far too much of the book leading up to actualy hypertext writing. Most of his advice really isn't that different from news writing. I understand that Kilian felt he needed to address an audience who did not know how to write, but I feel like he almost insults anyone who does know how to write, journalistically (is that a word?) anyway. But, the point is, for a reader who doesn't understand the concept of writing towards an audience rather than towards a professor, this book does a great job of explaining simple rules and guidelines.

    Nevertheless, Kilian spends far too much time explaining these sections. For example, his entire section concerning "print out to proofread" could be condensed to a single sentence 'Not only is computer-screen text hard to read, it's hard to proofread as well."

    Kilian spends so much time stressing the importance of condensing material and then writes a book with so much "fluff" that I have to wonder if he took his own advice at all. However, not everything in Kilian's book was useless.


    The most useful section for me was probably Chapters 7 & 8, in which Kilian explains the usefulness of web-writing skills. For example, the section explaining the difference between different types of blogs helped me to realize that internet writing is a much larger and useful tool than I'd first realized. The section on Personal Sites for Self-Marketing also proved helpful in that, although previous "about me" websites served as a page with "links of sites of interest," "about me" pages can now assist people in finding prospective jobs.

    Although I didn't enjoy reading this book by any means, sections (specifically the last three) helped me the most. This isn't to say that others might've found use in the earlier paragraphs, but perhaps Kilian could add a disclosure at the start of each chapter, explaining what specific material will be provided in each section.

    Did anyone else have issues with this book?

    Exercise your Mind!

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    After completing the five exercises offered in Crawford Kilian's Writing for the Web 3.0, I've learned a little bit about myself and about my writing styles in general.

    Exercise 1: Converting Prose to Bullets

    I didn't learn a ton of new information from this exercise. Having said that, I realized that I went into more depth than Kilian did with his *correct* answers. For example, Kilian said that one bullet point should be:

    ·        Isolated society (island, lost valley, planet)

    Although I used a similar approach, I used more bullet points:

    ·        Isolated society

    ·        island

    ·        lost valley

    ·        planet

    Also, in this exercise, I did not introduce my exercise in the same way that Kilian did it. While I used the entire first sentence to lead into the bulleted list, Kilian wrote a new sentence completely to lead to his bulleted list.

    Although, I understand the way in which Kilian approached his responses, I am not entirely positive that either of us are wrong in doing the exercise as we did.

    Exercise 2: Activating the Passive

    This exercise was basically a review for me as well. My AP English class and Journalism 1 class during my junior year taught me the importance of active voice rather than passive. I answered all of the questions either completely correct, or partially. For example, I said "Xerox researchers" rather than "Researchers at Xerox." I guess I just wanted to eliminate some wordiness. I also answered number four a little bit difference:

    My response: A local physician removed a neighborhood water pump's handle, stopping a cholera outbreak in 19th-century London.

    Kilian's response: A local physician stopped a 19-th century outbreak of cholera in London by removing the handle from a neighborhood water pump.

    Again, I don't think I'm entirely wrong with my answer, but I do understand why Kilian's response is more appropriate.

    Exercise 3: Using Anglo-Saxon Vocabulary

    This was the most challenging section for me. For one, I had never heard of most of these words. Some of the words were familiar, but for the most part, I did not know what they meant even when I did recognize them. This section was very useful for me, because while I was a copy editor, I learned to "dumb down" the articles so that even our not-so-intelligent audiences could enjoy our paper (not that they read our paper anyway).

    Exercise 4: Editing Text for Websites

    I learned a ton from this section. Although, while doing the activities, I didn't think to create bulleted lists to shorten the word length, looking back, I don't know how I missed that. In example 1, my *shortened* version didn't include any lists, but I feel that I did an adequate job in removing some of the "fluff" from the text.

       On your first day at work, your boss gives you the job of ripping up a $735,800 check.

       According to Statistics Canada, high school graduates in British Columbia made an average income of $25,671 in 2001.

       With a college degree, that income will increase by $735,800 by retirement. You will be able to make better decisions about your future career.

       If you choose not to attend college, you will lose money as well as better job opportunities. More education leads to more choices.

       After graduation, make plans for higher education. You have three choices: get a college degree, switch to a career program, or find a job, while planning to return to college later.

    Keep in mind that most career programs require some coursework, and remember that you can transfer credits from a community college to a university, which will save you money.

       StatsCan says your average income will be about $33,000 if you settle for a career field college diploma. That's less than you'd get with a degree, but decent. Many career programs now offer degrees as well.

       You even have the choice of working and studying for a degree at the same time.

       Sometimes we don't get everything we want. We're not rich enough, we're not interested in college, we're living in the wrong place, we've got a family. But, you do have at least some options. You have to choose between one that reduces your future choices, or one that increases them?

       It's your choice.

     

    What I could have done for further improvement:

     

    A college degree will give you:

    ·        a lifetime income increase of $735,800

    ·        better job opportunities

     

    After graduation, you have three options:

    ·        get a college degree

    ·        switch to a career program

    ·        find a job, while planning for college later

    Etc.

    The point is, if I'd taken more time, and reviewed the section before completing this exercise, I probably would have lowered the readability even more, although I did manage to lower the readability level by one whole grade level and I shortened the text to half. Unfortunately, in shortening this text, I think I deleted a lot of information.

     

    Exercise 5: Analyzing Corporate Websites

     

    I couldn't find the websites provided for us, so I chose to review Astorino, a corporate website for an architecture firm that I interned at during the summer prior to my senior year of high school.

     

    My review:

                   Astorino does an excellent job in addressing its audience, who is clearly aspiring builders and architects. The navigation on this website is well-designed as well. On the front page, surfers can click on an array of project examples, ranging from schools to residential to hospitals. From healthcare , for example, a new page appears with the same navigational bar on the right, but with a new one also on the left of a diagram representing Astorino's work on the new Children's Hospital. This new nav.bar features an about section, people, and project list, which adequately serves an inquirer's needs. From the about section, the reader isn't overwhelmed with huge words or long paragraphs. The designer of this text kept listing in mind, and used most of the space to make a bulleted point list of all the jobs they've completed in the field of healthcare. Overall, Kilian would be pleased with Astorino's website. They don't destract readers from the important aspects of their company with an overabundance of pictures or words. Instead, Astorino addresses their audience in a professional manner.

     

    In short, Although I moaned and groaned all through this book, I admit that I did learn a lot of new information...sorry for my earlier rants...

    A new form of literature? Blog 3

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    After reading "Is Hypertext Fiction Possible?," by George P. Landow, I have mixed feelings concerning this subject. Although it seems that Landlow criticizes hypertext fiction as not following traditional fiction form, this is not always true. Furthermore, in more than just one way, hypertext fiction can be more engaging than regular printed text. Hypertext allows for more leeway in including graphics, images, and color that traditional novels and/or short stories can never allow.  Thus, hypertext fiction is possible--in some cases.

     Landlow utilizes Aristotle's Poetics to support his thesis. Aristotle assesses in chapter seven that fiction requires a beginning, middle, and end point. However, this is where hypertext becomes a problem. Not all online writing follows this form, although some do. For example, one could very easily argue that Inanimate Alice, Episode 1: China has a beginning, middle, and end. However, the story seems to lack a lot of content, but the pictures and graphics make up for that lack of details. Even something as ineffective as Star Wars, one letter at a time still fits  Aristotle's form. Unfortunately, not all online fiction works fits Aristotle's assessment as well as Pullinger's Inanimate Alice. Dawn has no ending. The poem just repeats itself over and over and over again. Strings faces an even worse issues, as it really doesn't have a clear beginning or end. The interactive hypertext simply has sections, which are titled by their content. Take Haha for example: it contains a string of hahahaha's which simulate the idea that laughter is contagious.

    If we analyze Inanimate Alice more in depth, we will be able to acknowledge that author Pullinger successfully starts her work (My name is Alice) and wraps it up (the mother and daughter find Dad). In between these two events, Pullinger finds her characters' surroundings as support for her theory that even children of the 21st century are becoming hooked on technology; a recent study proves that even non-Americans are becoming increasingly dependent on our mobile devices. Just like Alice, today's adolescents "are among the most technologically savvy, with more of them having bought items using their mobile, watched video on their handset or having sent pictures or video straight to the internet from their phone." Landlow even argues that online writing allows readers "widely separated in time and space" to view the same writing. The hypertext will last forever.

    Landlow might argue that "text woven of codes" will never have the same finality and unity that is almost always evident in printed text, but he does not acknowledge that some printed works of literature leave their endings open--this allows the readers to make up their own conclusions, which in some cases, might be more preferable than the author's intended ending. Inanimate Alice concludes with Alice wondering why her mother agreed to go out to dinner when they all know full well that there are no restaurants in the surrounding 500 kilometers.

    "Linking changes the experience of text and authorship by rendering the borders of all text permeable..." Sometimes, this works out rather well, such as in The Body. In this such work, the author's ability to connect her hypertext works to her advantage. She can mirror the body's connectivity with her own hypertext links. The nose links to the eyes. A section about skin connects with shins because they are tanning. Perhaps not all works of hypertext fiction will work as effectively as this one; nevertheless, The Body proves that such open boarders can actually enhance hypertext fiction rather than hinder it.

    Unfortunately, not every aspect of hypertext fiction actually works. Although Pullinger used graphics and images to her advantage, sometimes too much imagery can pull away from the text itself and cause the reader to miss the entire point. On one page of Pullinger's selection, Alice explains that her mother paints while Alice draws. To enhance this text, Pullinger includes some watercolor paint splatters. Regrettably, this is not as effective as Pullinger probably hoped it would be. If the reader lingers on the page for too long, the paint splatters in an area where text will appear on the next page. This forces the reader to strain his eyes to read the next line which reads, "We do my schoolwork" or something along those lines. Like I said, the paint splatter made it difficult for me to read.

    Hypertext fiction is possible, despite Aristotle's out-of-date analysis of just what "poesis" is. In today's day and age, hypertext fiction will enhance some literature, and could quite possibly enrich the reading experience. Readers rarely find such graphic creativity in a novel, unless they are reading a children's book. Even then, illustrations are usually more limited. Landlow presents a well-directed argument that Hypertext fiction is technically in the eye of the beholder. Hypertext really depends upon preference. Some people would rather read a book from their laps--others might enjoy the luxury of sitting with a laptop on their lap instead of a book. The choice is up to us.

    A new form of literature? Blog 2

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    Close reading--although the intro suggests that a reader can view this media in a mere 8 minutes, I spent almost an hour analyzing it.

     

    In Inanimate Alice, Episode 1: China, author Kate Pullinger depicts a world completely dependent on technology, and sadly, that world is not all that far away in our future. Pullinger utilizes her resources of the web--she uses sound, images, and text to support her theory.

    Starting with a simple, yet very static statement, "My name is Alice. I'm 8 years old," the mood and purpose of the work is set. In the background, readers can hear static and interference. It sounds like the noise a tv or computer monitor makes when a cell phone's frequency is in too close of proximity. (I actually thought my iPhone was causing interference, so I put at the opposite end of the room, only to realize that the interference persisted.)

    On the next page, the static persists on the text. It quivers as though it might lose connection and be lost in cyberspace forever. When the girl reveals that her father is missing, readers get a somewhat anxious feeling. Where is the father? Why is he missing? Only progressing will reveal the answers...

    Page three shows images of a few jeeps off-roading. The music in the background is very effective, as it adds to the eerie mood and atmosphere. Over the course of the next two pages, the girl reveals that her father travels alone, leaving his wife and daughter alone at their base camp which is located in china. Images of China overlap the moving jeep images, and allow readers to see the environment for themselves--except it appears that the narrator is in a remote location in northern china. Pullinger mentions that the father's job involves searching for oil. This suggests that, although the characters live in the 21st century, and even though the society is very technologically dependent, oil still drives the economy and world in general.

    A new recurring theme appears on the next page: images of a road speeding by. Pullinger uses these images to help the reader assess just how far the father and later the mother and daughter must travel to reach their destinations in such remote locations. With the static text still evident, the girl mentions that her mother is no longer assuring her that dad will be home soon.

    Next, Pullinger uses a diagram of a futuristic house to allow the girl to describe her house. Here, it is evident that pictures are still worth a thousand words. The house is round--it probably only has enough room for the family's essentials--and is located in the middle of nowhere. Readers can assess by this picture and diagram, that yet again, technology is very important to their day and age: the characters rely on electronic devices to keep in contact with the rest of the world.

    Pullinger finds painting and drawing will allow readers to identify with the characters and with what they are currently experiencing. Although the music has now slightly changed to a traditional sounding Chinese song, static persists, ensuring readers that we cannot escape the grip that technology now has.

    To keep herself preoccupied, the little girl plays with a player that is similar to an iPhone. From this electronic device, the girl can not only draw pictures and play games, but she can also use it as a communication device and use it for global positioning. This interactive device not only speaks to her hello Alice but also shows her a skateboarder that she drew herself Brad. Pullinger makes it obvious that Brad  is Alice's only friend, because she lives in such a remote location.

    The following two pages show a vast desert in the form of a never-ending panoramic image. This enhances the image of Alice and her mother searching for the father. A graphic diagram of jeep with "a big satellite transmitter on the roof" finds its way onto the page, which yet again enforces the notion that technology plays a pivotal role in staying connected with the outside world. The girl's player even has a GPS installed in it, which "registers all the new locations."

    Pullinger allows readers to acknowledge that the player is a sort of lifeline for Alice--her mother tries to distract her with wildflowers, but Alice finds that the only way she can see them ("she [her mother] is driving too fast for that") is to take pictures of the wildflowers as they speed past. Then the daughter mails them to her father, yet again enforcing our dependency on devices such as PDAs and iPhones. (I think of my iPhone here--I sometimes wonder how I survived before I had it, and I haven't even had it for a year...)

    The next page brings along yet another moving image of driving down a dark street. Static text that reads "we travel a long time," and the girl turns to her "player" to occupy her. She lists the things she could be doing instead of riding in a car until her mother tells her that the "player" is annoying. She is frightened. I'm frightened too. These two phrases do not aid the reader in erasing that omnipresent eerie feeling. The sky hums up here, I don't know why, as though it's electronic. We rely on technology and electricity so much now that we are polluting our airways with shockwaves. Alice is too young to understand this--she is hurting her environment and she doesn't even know it.

    Pullinger adds the common feeling of being lost to her piece when Alice looks out the window but realizes there is "nothing to see." She chooses to list the things that she would do if she lived in a town instead of in a remote location. Pullinger notes that not one of these activities involves technology. Suddenly, Brad is speaking and tells them where to find Daddy.

    As it turns out, Dad's jeep broke down, and since there was NO SIGNAL for miles, "he walked and walked to find one, but he couldn't, how strange is that?" As a final statement, Pullinger yet again demonstrates her opinion that our future generations will rely too much on technology. Alice also mentions that there isn't a restaurant anywhere in the surrounding 500 kilometers. As a lesson learned, deserts can be a dangerous place for someone who isn't connected to the rest of the world.

     

    Care to share with someone else?

     

    A new form of literature? Blog 1

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    In light of our most recent blog assignment, I decided to take my time with each of the four "electronic literature" selections that I chose while taking notes as time passed.

    Dawn

    Although this poem is rather short, the authors deliver an eerie message with the help of creative prose mixed with photographs. The only part of this selection that I disliked was the audio background. Although the "windy" atmosphere might have enhanced the piece as a whole, the "crackling" only distracted me from the piece as a whole and prevented me from further analyzing my emotions on a deeper level. The images in the background, especially that of the girl standing alone enhanced the reading. In the case of the girl standing alone, it went hand-in-hand with the dialogue the day I die she will rise up... This was the only section that actually repeated along with the poem. The rest of the images alternated with the poem, which encouraged me to continue to read the poem, even if I was reading the same prose more than once.

    Star Wars, one letter at a time

    I am going to be blunt and say that I am note a huge fan of this selection. Although the idea is creative and intuitive, it fails. While "reading" Star Wars one letter at a time does cause readers to view the piece in a different light, it also annoys them, and I think that only life-long fans would be able to follow the letters. I myself found it very difficult to follow. I could pick out a few words here and there, mainly ones that were pivotal to the story, such as "Star Wars," "civil war," "tatouine," and "C3-PO." Like I said, the idea was creative, but rather ineffective.

    Strings

    This creative selection "strings" words across the screen to get a message across. My favorite section was arms: the string creates "your" "arms" "O" "me" which clearly suggests the real meaning of "your arms around me," but cleverly illustrates this with the strings. Even the haha section demonstrates laughter accurately. The "haha" slowly expands until it fills the entire string, which perfectly assesses that laughter is in fact contagious. Side note: this reminds me of the Laughter Club in Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind.

    Inanimate Alice, Episode 1: China

    This selection provoked the most emotion for me. It depicts the life of a young girl growing up surrounded by advanced technology, but even though technology has done so much to improve her life, it has also caused hard-ships, such as when her father goes missing and cannot contact his family because he has "no signal." The author utilizes not only grainy photographs but also static text to identify technology as not always being reliable. The static photos in the background also revealed anxiety in me; I suppose I've seen far too many dark and scary movies--I assumed that by the end of the selection, a vampire or werewolve would jump out and kill everyone.

    Care to see other's opinions?

    Who knew the body could be so nostalgic?

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    From the first page, I knew I would enjoy reading The Body. For whatever reason, the first page I visited was the nose. Author Shelly Jackson starts the page with "things I can do with my nose," and from there branches off into various thoughts, from the memory of a single tear flowing down her left cheek after getting her nose pierced to nose bleeds in general. "I remember other kids in school whose noses would regularly bleed for no reason, a violent color gushing out of them, while they sat calm and rather saintly, the center of a fascinated crowd. I would have been happy to be one of those people. My nose rarely bleeds, but I take a secret luxurious pleasure in it when it does. I like the sudden warm liquid welling up in my nose, flowing extravagantly forth. I show off the brilliantly spotted tissue in an off-hand way, enjoying the worried remarks," she says. Wow, someone else like me. There is something about having a bloody nose. Like Jackson, I rarely had bloody noses growing up as a kid, and my only memorable one was when I was kicked in the face during a karate tournament. Just like Jackson, I more or less paraded my bloody nose and fat lip around for all to see. Yes, I was proud of myself for not getting out of the way in time.

    What I really love about this piece is the ease at which readers can identify with the author. She spends a few paragraphs in the nose section describing how children draw noses in comparison to adults, and then a link moves us on to the eye. "On summer mornings I lay in bed until I was called to breakfast, conducting lazy experiments with my eyes, closing first one, then the other. The different views were sometimes startlingly different: one eye saw only blankets, the other eye saw the sun coming through my Alice-in-Wonderland curtains." The image conveyed here shows just how differently we all see the world through our own eyes.

    More than anything else, Jackson's hypertext brought on an immense nostalgic feeling from my childhood. Jackson uses images from her own childhood, such as "...the uncomfortable plastic chairs I sat in all through grade school: if I rubbed my arm against the back of the chair on a dry day, I got a funny feeling as if there were a layer of warm felt between my skin and the plastic. If I held my arm the right distance away, every hair stretched straight out toward the plastic." Every child has experienced static electricity from one of those plastic chairs, whether it be in a classroom or in a waiting room at the dentist or doctor's office, but there's still something exhilarating when a child feels that buzzing on their skin.

    Regardless of Jackson's intentional meaning, which was obviously an artistic one, she still conveys a message about remembering our childhood. Her descriptions of the human body allow us to look at the body in a new light, and thus, we can appreciate the nose as more than just something to fill in the center of the face--it has purpose, and is just as important as the rest of the body is.

    So what does everybody else think?

    Labyrinth of Yellow Wallpaper

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    From the start of The University of Yellow Wallpaper, I was intrigued, especially when I read "the place you must begin...", because I assumed this story would differ from The Heist in that, the author would follow Kilian's suggestion in strongly suggesting where the reader should go next. However, what I found was not what I'd been looking for. Yet again, I discovered that hypertext writing differs in that it leads readers off into different directions, each with different thought-provoking descriptions.

    Ahh, the descriptions in this hypertext. Wow. C.E. White's style invokes the reader to think of multipe symbols. Her descriptions not only to capture her readers, but also to keep them confused, so that they will continue reading her story. Each thought leads to a new one, much like the human mind. The prose offers a few different emotions for readers. Aside from a feeling of confusion, the text also forces readers to feel lost or even drowning. The descriptions themselves sometimes have a drowning effect. Readers lose themselves and no amount of clicking on the next hyperlink can save them. Each new page branches off into its own world, and it does make the reader feel like he is in a labyrinth of sorts, just as Jackie suggests a maze. However, I found the labrynth a more appropriate setting rather than a maze, simply because with a labyrinth, one must enter and reach the center of the maze and then find his way back out--this is very similar to the notion that a reader receives while reading this hypertext--there is no where else to go but deeper into the text. By going deeper, perhaps we will be able to divulge some meaning from the hypertext--something that I had some difficulty doing.

    It appears that C. E. White wanted to express so many emotions all at once, that she lost some of her meaning--just as Kilian warns about in his text.

    When I overview this hypertext, I admit that I love White's style. She found a great way to captivate her audience and leave them gasping for more. Although she could still lead readers into a more concrete direction, The University of Yellow Wallpaper obviously utilizes hypertext and hyperlinks much better than The Heist. I wonder what everyone else thought...

    About this Archive

    This page is an archive of entries from October 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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