Wow. My only educated guess is that this Memex thing may have been an incredibly early version of Wikipedia. After watching that video, I really hope that's what the whole idea is about because otherwise I'm more lost than a polar bear in the African wilderness. I mean, if it is the first ever Wikipedia idea and it's from 1946 than it is, in the words of Dick Vitale, "Awesome baby, with a capital A!"

But in all seriousness, I cannot definitively say with any confidence that I have a clue what Vannevar Bush is talking about. I don't even know if it's Vannevar Bush who's talking! For one of those rare moments in my life, and yes Tiffany it's an incredibly rare moment that I can't stress enough, I am utterly and hopelessly lost with this whole thing. I really want to say it's cool and that I totally know what I'm going to be talking about in Tuesday afternoon's class, but most likely I'll just be blowing wind out my ass, figuratively speaking of course. For that, I do sincerely apologize.

As a result, I'm just going to attempt to focus on the positives of his idea and assume, for better or for worse, that it really is the fetus of Wikipedia. In this instance, Bush is a genius. Is it weird that I get an odd chill down the back of my spine saying that a person with the last name of Bush is a genius? Probably.

I told you it didn't belong

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"There is, however, a conceptual problem here...The first-personness...is traditionally related to the lyrical experience in which the distance between the voice of the poem and the listener is considerably reduced...In short, Laurel seems to believe that a work such as Zork cannot incorporate both narratological and dramatic devices." page 137 of Espen J. Aarseth's Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature

At this point I'm getting used to Aarseth inventing his own words. But even with his big, new English words his argument still isn't winning me over, as evidenced by the above passage. Narrative is a crucial element in all literature and is even more so in the greatest pieces of literature. Zork is a perfect example of how cybertexts will continually fall short of meeting that requirement and I think Aarseth recognizes that. 
Conceptually, cybertexts always seemed to lack at least one important literary element. I'm not trying to knock them for it because in every instance they can't help it. Cybertexts are what they are. They can be great in their own existence, there's no question about that. However, they cannot be great or even be a part of something in which they do not have all the necessary elements to be a part of.
I think of cybertexts like Michael Jordan from the mid 1990's. Nobody will argue that M.J. is not one of the greatest, if not the greatest, basketball player of all time. It would also be fair to say he was one of the greatest all-around athletes in history, too. But just because he was such a great athlete meant nothing when he tossed out his sneakers in favor of a baseball cap. Both basketball and baseball players can be great athletes but neither possesses all the necessary skills to be great in the other's sport. 
As such, everybody remembers Jordan as one of the greatest to ever play on the hardwood. Those same people will also remember some notable early cybertexts as being crucial in creating a great genre separate from literature all their own.

Controlling the medium

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"The belief that new...technologies are in and of themselves democratic is not only false but dangerous...there is no reason to believe that the increased complexity of our technologized lives works toward increased equality for all subjected to the technology." pages 167-68 of Espen J. Aarseth's Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature

 

Is the fact that I agree with Aaresth's above statement make me at all paranoid? It just seemed like a very relevant statement today even though his book is thirteen years old now with the exponential expansion of the Internet and talk in Washington about its regulation. When books were first introduced centuries ago they were only made available to not only those who were literate but by the few printers who pulled the puppet strings.

The Internet is very similar. Just about anybody can post anything online with little if any regulation. Although most pay for Internet access in some way shape or form, thousands of coffee shops across the country offer free wi-fi to their patrons. In this instance there really are no limits to what people can do online. Why do we enjoy such extensive Internet freedom? It's because all its users in some way shape or form can control Internet content.

The whole idea of net neutrality that's being thrown around is hardly an increase in fairness and freedom on the web. It would actually force providers to display an equal amount of content from opposite viewpoints whether users want to see it or not. This is why control over the medium needs to remain in its users' hands in order to ensure as much freedom of choice as possible.

So...what have we learned?

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"Clarity is a value that is created by society and that society must work hard to maintain, for it is not just hard to write clearly. It is almost an unnatural act." page 141 of Joseph Williams' Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace

 

Anybody who thinks writing clearly is easy has their head stuck where the sun don't shine. Reading through Williams' entire book has made that crystal clear, no pun intended. I discovered several little things that I didn't even realize were things at all that could drastically affect my writing for better or for worse. I thought I knew plenty about clear writing but Williams' deep analysis really opened up a whole new world of written clarity to me.

Clear writing isn't about following every obscure rule in the book either. In fact, clear writing often displays which rules to follow and which ones to ignore. Being an expert in language and its construction doesn't guarantee great writing. A good ear can go as, if not farther than, a grammarian's brain when composing clearly written pieces. But that ear also must be trained and the pen must follow.

I don't know if I would call clear writing an unnatural act. If it were then I don't think it could be an acquired skill. It is, however, reserved to a certain group of people who have the raw writing skills and talent to begin with that can then develop that into clear and concise writing. Those people and their works are still admired today. I'm not saying I can get there someday, but I know that I can harness all of my talents together to produce a pretty darn good product. 

It just doesn't belong

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"Attempts to apply the perspectives of literary theory of the adventure game genre have been sparse and unconcerted. Over the last decade...several individual attempts have been made to put the genre on the agenda of literary studies, but perhaps understandably, no breakthrough has yet been made." page 108-09 of Espen J. Aarseth's Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature

 

I really hope Aarseth isn't too surprised at the absence of breakthroughs for adventure games into the agenda of literary studies. Adventure itself never made for great literature even in the traditional sense. It's had slightly more success in American literature thanks to authors like Mark Twain, but he's in a very small company. Do you typically associate adventurous literature with Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Poe, Williams, Austen, Hawthorne, Whitman and Steinbeck?

The lack of legitimacy among the literary elite is an enormous problem to overcome, but, as in the case of Twain's literature, can be done. Adventure games' biggest and most irreparable one is that they are games. They won't be accepted as a genre of literary studies because they are not literature. It really doesn't matter how great a storyline is produced. Nowhere in Merriam-Webster's definition of literature does it mention anything about digital stories created for interaction with the audience as being literature.

Without a change in the definition, which I can't see ever happening, adventure games will only exist as a medium of entertainment outside the scope of literature. If those who create adventure games have a problem with that, tell them to go write a book. Maybe then they will understand the separation of the two and let it remain as is. 

I went through the ebook, at least I think that's what I'm supposed to be calling it, entitled "Girls Day Out." There was no particular reasoning behind selecting this work. I like to think that a person can still never judge a book by its cover even if there are no more traditional books. In a word, though, I found the experience fascinating, and that's not an overstatement in any way.

Perhaps I just am that old-fashioned. I'm very used to and comfortable with the traditional book; turning the pages in suspense, translating the words on the pages to vibrant and imaginative images in my head and even just holding the book in my hands and marking the point where I stop. That feeling will never escape me and I doubt it will ever disappear even as the book continues to evolve. But there was just something very neat and powerful about the book itself grabbing your focus to whatever points or characters it wanted me to see.

My favorite passage in "Girls Day Out" was the poem section. Upon first glance it was very unorthodox. In fact, if I didn't first click on the word poem I probably could not have identified it as such. It was basically one long fragment filled paragraph that told an unusual short story that was difficult to fully comprehend. After I finished reading, I clicked the cursor on the text as that was the only option available to turn the page if you will.

At this point, I was becoming rapidly turned off at this whole electronic book idea. What happened upon turning the page, however, also completely turned around my opinion. The text faded out almost completely save for a few words to reveal the climactic phrase of the poem followed by its dedication, usually found at the beginning of traditional books. The poem instantly made sense and was very profound, and the way the author presented that to me I thought was both creative and incredibly effective.

Maybe this ebook thing will go somewhere after all.

"The most striking feature of elegant prose is balanced sentence structures. You most easily balance one part of a sentence against another by coordinating them with and, or, nor, but and yet, but you can also balance noncoordinated phrases and clauses." page 120 of Joseph Williams' Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace

 

I like to think that my writing is smooth and elegant. Of course, I like to think a lot of positive things about my writing but not all of them are true, even if my ego says otherwise. In the past, I've always found using conjunctions to be an easy way to elegantly coordinate the flow of my sentences. If I ever came across a sentence with a pair or more of clauses that didn't coordinate I simply broke them apart into separate sentences to avoid trying to balance them. It never occurred to me that they could be coordinated without the use of conjunctions, which in my writing have a tendency to emerge quite often.

That's really something I might need to try and reexamine in an attempt to add more eloquence to my writing. I'm not one who likes to repeat the same words over too often when I write. Most of the time, however, I focus not repeating adjectives and words that start sentences. Constantly repeating conjunctions can make it look like you're going for something too complex and that your thoughts are too broad to be gathered.

Once again, simplicity reigns supreme in Williams' ninth chapter. Conjunctions are fine when used somewhat occasionally and properly. When you can subtly use other words to create elegantly flowing sentences, that's when your writing becomes something far better than average.

Research proposal(s)

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I really would be interested in divulging how people can best adapt into digital communication from the print world. Especially in journalism, we need to adapt at a much quicker pace than we have thus far in order for the communication field to thrive once more. This topic could easily stretch 15 pages and has plenty of historical and contemporary research to support it. 
From that historical perspective, I will try to dissect all the commonalities that each evolution in communication shared with the others. I will examine how these similarities were applied to each new evolution and if any of those can be applied to the changes happening today. I am also going to look at how all of those contributed to a smoother and successful transition without fully eliminating and in most cases enhancing the previous communication technology. 
By throwing together all the details of these and other relative ideas, I feel that I can compile a solid and informative research paper.
"Cybertext, then, is not a 'new,' 'revolutionary' form of text, with capabilities only made possible through the invention of the digital computer...Cybertext is a perspective on all forms of textuality, a way to expand the scope of literary studies to include phenomena that today are perceived as outside of, or marginalized by, the field of literature...for purely extraneous reasons." page 18 of Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature by Espen J. Aarseth


I found this passage to be the most interesting and unexpected of any in the first paragraph of Aarseth's book. However, it does seem to go along with the common theme that has recurred often in class this semester. No textuality has really been new so to speak. Sure the depth of vocabulary has expanded as new concepts and inventions require identification. Whatever the next form of communication will be will require the same thing to accompany all that emerges between now and then. All textuality has really done, from the spoken word to the digitally imprinted one of today, is evolved. 

Whether the digital evolution of communication came naturally in due course is debatable. Perhaps we evolved into the digital world earlier than expected, perhaps later. It's not really of any consequence either way. The fact is that it happened, and is happening, and that whenever we discovered it, the shift was ultimately inevitable. 

Words like blogs, the Internet, websites, etc. are new in that they had to be invented but the text that fills them is just the natural evolution of textuality. Now that the evolution has arrived, we can only adapt with it and, inevitably, evolve past it.
"Readers read most easily when you quickly get them to the subject of your main clause and then past that subject to its verb and object." Joseph Williams, page 97 of Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace


We all had to drag through the long winded but somehow great and timeless authors of England's Victorian Era. I still haven't figured out why 90 percent of what are deemed Victorian classics do to make them classics. It's probably because of their greatness in that time period which unfortunately does not transition too smoothly to the writing style of today. 

The Victorian authors had a tendency to be incredibly long winded and passive with their stories. A lot of what the most renowned Victorian novels talk about is circular conversation, meaningless and passive dialogue often with no end in sight. Today's readers will quickly be bored to sleep at such plain and actionless sentences. Williams points out that today's best writing needs to follow a much different path, smoothly transitioning from subject to verb to object and then repeating. 

In today's ADD infested world this kind of writing is crucial and I do try to keep it in mind as much as possible in all of my writing. As a reader I sympathize with Williams and would feel like I was doing a disservice if my own writing did not reflect those principals I value as a reader. Essentially, it's best to write how you read in order to best convey your points.
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